Wednesday, December 28, 2011

All the Single Ladies

"A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle." -Irina Dunn

I've recently come to some strong conclusions about relationships--mine, and those which I see or hear about regularly. This could be for any number of reasons. For starters, I have several friends getting married this week. I also celebrated 6 months of marriage on Sunday (along with Christmas.) And, quite frankly, this is the time of year when young, single women complain about relationships quite frequently. They do it with speed and passion, and are diligent in scorning every dating relationship they see--but not marriages, because if a couple gets married that means they're less public with how in love they are (or perhaps just less in love?), and naturally less prone to "couple-y" habits that cause such vexation in the single woman.

There are a few points I'd like to make, to ease the confusion of such women. 1, I'm going to tell you what the experts say. 2, I'm going to tell you a personal story. 3, I'm going to sympathize and criticize at the same time.

1. What the experts say.
-Many counselors would be quick to tell you that there is someone out there for you, and that you just need to keep looking. They will also tell you that your life is up to you and that if you make goals and follow your dreams then you will be successful and happy. Yeah, right.

During premarital counseling my then-fiance and I were told that the belief that there is one person out there for you is complete crap. (that's not a direct quote.) Now, this was not a crotchety old widower telling me this. This was a respectable pastor, with over 20 years of preaching under his belt and countless counseling sessions with newlyweds, very in love with his wife and not at all trying to be cynical. He was being reasonable, and accurate.

Take this quote from 'Ever After', for instance...

"Do you really think there is only one perfect mate? ... How can you be certain to find them? And if you find them, are they really the one for you, or do you only think they are? What if the person you're meant to be with never appears? Or she does, but... but you're too distracted to notice? ... Then, let's say God puts two people on earth, and they are lucky enough to find one another. But... one of them gets hit by lightning. Well, then what? Is that it? Or perchance you meet someone new
and marry again. Is that the lady you should be with? Or was it the first? When the two of them are side by side, were they both the one for you...and you just met the first one first? Or is the second one supposed to be first?" [Prince Henry]

"The one" does not exist. The Bible does not promise that every woman has a prince charming or a knight in shining armor just waiting around the corner of college graduation and your 25th birthday. There are billions of people on this earth and any number of them are compatible with each other, in any number of combinations, and you could fall in love with one or the other given the right opportunity or circumstance. If (by some horrible accident) Joey died tomorrow, I am not unhappy in the thought that, after a few (hundred) years of mourning, I would be able to love someone else. It wouldn't be the same love, it would be different because the person was different, but I don't doubt that I would be able to fall in love again.

2. A personal story. Well, two.
-I spent many of my high school years wishing for love. I did, in fact, have a boyfriend during high school. He didn't treat me well and we were still "in love" when we weren't dating. (Sounds healthy, right?) I liked having a boyfriend, but I also liked my life without a boyfriend. I believe that most of my turmoil in high school was due to depression, and not because I actually needed a boyfriend. The year and a half after said boyfriend dumped me (for the third time) I had the time of my life. I had a relapse later. But again, a boyfriend was NOT the solution. And I didn't believe it was! My desire for romance and my depression were connected, but they were not the same thing, and I was aware of that.

I was still aware of that during my second semester of college when I was dumped by a different boyfriend. I didn't handle that break up as well, for different and more damaging reasons. But after a while I found some peace about the situation, and was content in my singleness. I had four glorious, adventurous, liberating months of singleness. I had decided early in the summer that I wasn't going to think about dating.

And then I met the man that I married this last June.

3. Sympathy and criticism.
-I'm sorry that all you lovely women are without love, and that you find it to be the focus of your lives. But trust me, there is so much more to think on, to explore, to discovery. If there is a man out there whom you would be inclined to fall in love with, let him find you. Don't dwell on him, or it. It's just a waste of time. I can personally say that, as a married woman, I do sometimes miss being single. There are so many things you can do as a single woman that you can't do when you're married. Go into ministry overseas, write a novel, be yourself--discover who you are before you put your whole life into someone else. And who knows, maybe God has called you to the single life? That part is in the Bible, my friends.

Now, on another significant matter, when you discover who you are, don't give up any part of yourself for anything. We no longer live in an age of arranged marriages. If you do find the person you're going to marry, you'd better be able to express yourself in love or anger without fear. You'd better be able to follow your dreams and have him follow them with you, and follow his as well without feeling you've compromised something too important. You've got to be in everything together, and if you have to hide part of yourself or change a part of yourself to be loved and accepted, then you chose the wrong "prince."

So stop complaining. Stop whining about other people's relationships and crying about your lack of romance. Stop expecting to find it. Marriage is not a promise, it is a blessing. Ask for it, pray for it, but don't keep yourself waiting. Don't spend your life waiting for a prince/knight/doctor/lawyer that may not even exist. You are worth so much more.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Found(ation of) Gratitude: 23

Today's blog is going to sound kind of dumb. (Especially if you read it out loud. Don't do that. You weirdo.) Alas, I'm having some trouble thinking of something to be thankful for, because really, today is pretty laid back, and saving the "big one" for tomorrow.

Basically I had a few interesting opportunities today. It's the first official day of Thanksgiving break, and because my mentoring teacher was sick last Thursday I thought I'd go over to the middle school to make up those hours. So I woke up early with Joey and took the fastest shower in the history of showers. I bought myself Starbucks, and drove all the way up to Waukegan, just to find an empty parking lot.

I'm not too disappointed. Being with 7th graders all day would have been torture, because I'm pretty tired. However, I still felt reasonably silly, and it wasn't even 8 o'clock yet. (The time also meant that I couldn't do any of the other errands that need to be done today.)

So I drove to see Joey at work and tell him what happened, then went home and... took a long nap.

#23. I've found I'm thankful for being an adult. I'm grown up enough to "go the extra mile" (literally) to take care of things. I'm also grown up enough to decide to take advantage of the free time I'm given and rest when I need it. I'm thankful that driving up there for no reason didn't upset me.

Seriously. That sounds stupid. I got nothin'.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Found(ation of) Gratitude: 16-22

Apparently I've been really busy, because I haven't blogged in a whole week. So I'm gonna make little short notes for each day because a story and a photo for 7 days is just a lot of work right now.

#16. Word games. Like Scrabble. Or Words With Friends on Facebook. I don't actually own a Scrabble board anymore so these games keep my brain word-ing and stuff.

#17. The ability to argue with one clear point, and to put up with people who like to bounce around a lot just to keep an argument going. Also, for patience with said people. Also also, for the car ride with said people to be over.

#18. Hymns. I went to a band concert on Friday night, in which all (most?) of the songs were based on hymns. They were beautiful, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

#19. For feet and legs that function, because I spent 50% of Saturday walking around Chicago, with no actual destination.

#20. For "new" sweaters (from Goodwill) that make me feel cozy and cuddly, and happen to be the perfect shade of green.

#21. Cancelled morning classes, and for good migraine medication.

And now, for today.

A little more than three years ago I was thrust into a friendship with a lovely girl in a dark red dress. It was summer time and I didn't have any friends in Illinois yet. We went to dinner and a coffeehouse together, and we've been best friends ever since.

#22. I've found that I'm thankful for my best friend Janell., (whose birthday is today!) Like all relationships, there have been rough spots and potholes, but we've persevered, in our own way, to the best of our ability. We make each other laugh and sometimes we laugh at other people, and sometimes, they laugh at us. (we are pretty freakin' hilarious.) She is beautiful inside and out, and I love her all the way to my toes! She is such a blessing in my life.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Found(ation of) Gratitude: 14 & 15

I've been doing a lot of "future planning" lately in regards to school. I don't want to go into details--mostly because I've been talking about it all day, and also because it seems to only make me more frustrated. When you get down to the real truth about my school life, it is complex, more complex than it is for the average college student. Now, I never say to myself "I wish I had a different major" or "I should have gone to a different school." Yes, I do wish it was simpler. But I know that there is a purpose to all of this, and that when it's over, I will hopefully get to do something meaningful with my life.

#14. I've found that I'm thankful for my academic adviser. She has been an endless source of help and friendship the last four years. She is supportive and encouraging, but she is also genuinely interested in making me the student and the person I should be. She tells me the truth, even if it royally sucks. I could not have picked a better person to help me through the process of getting my BA. She is such a blessing!

#15. I've found that I'm thankful for people that are "kind of" my friends. These are the people that have been in my classes, in groups I'm in, etc. These people brighten my day when I'm not around my "best" friends. They greet me in the halls, or off-campus, and during class they talk to me like I'm a normal person. They're not awkward. They laugh at my jokes. And today, when I was feeling angry and frustrated about some school-related things, they listened to me vent, and shared their own similar frustrations. The conversation seriously improved my mood.


I have no idea what I'll be thankful for tomorrow. It's a Wednesday. Somehow, when I first typed that, I forgot that days of the week were capitalized. The "English major" side of my brain is apparently tired. I'm gonna go doodle or something.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Found(ation of) Gratitude: 12 & 13

It's been a long weekend, and I still have an abundance of math homework to finish, so I will be brief. So brief, in fact, that I am combining Saturday and Sunday.

#12 & #13: I've found I'm thankful for my friends. Since getting married it's been difficult to find free time to be with people in a relaxed setting. Last week I had one-on-one time with my best friend for the first time since August. I no longer have a meal plan, so I eat my meals in the apartment (alone, if Joey is at work) and I live on a floor with few familiar faces and no common living area. This weekend I got to spend time with some people dear and close to my heart. I'm thankful for their willingness to laugh with me and walk around aimlessly, and to be silly and carefree in a time when much "professionalism" dominates my behavior.

I'm especially thankful for trips to the pet store to watch sleeping puppies, trips to the thrift store to find... who knows what?... and of course, trips to new places where we can buy food like this:

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Found(ation of) Gratitude: 11

For the 11th of November, there is an obvious theme. It's been a theme set in stone since 1911 when the first great war ended.

It's so obvious that even in Waukegan, a town full of people who are unlikely to be found voting or planting tiny flags at a local cemetery, the students are found thankful for veterans.

Since public schools were closed on Friday I got to witness the Veterans Day celebration on Thursday when I entered the classroom. The students had an adorable worksheet for homework on the history of Veterans Day / Armistice Day, and they all read their answers proudly. Then the teacher and her son--a senior in high school who was either skipping class or had the day off--told a story about their cousin, who had been a marine and went to Iraq and was inevitably changed forever.

The personal story helped the students prepare for the day's assignment, which was to write a postcard for the local veterans. Mrs. G and her son would deliver them to a local Veterans Hospital after school.

For the next hour I helped 7th graders write these postcards, and if the spelling was mostly correct they were allowed to color/decorate the back. A few of the postcards made me catch my breath. It's amazing how someone who has no connection to a soldier can understand how much those in the military have done for us.

I have a favorite student, who shall remain unnamed. He's not my favorite because he's perfect, or well-behaved, or funny, but because there is a kindness in him that the rest of the teachers just don't see. There is something good in him that I feel is being stifled.

His was my favorite letter, and probably the best written. The words were sincere, and eloquently written for a 7th grader, and at the end, he wrote out the Pledge of Allegiance. As I sat there reading his postcard, my peripheral vision caught the nervousness in his posture, and I felt my whole face warm up with emotion. The smile he gave me when I told him how good the letter was, and how much I liked it, was something I can't describe.

#11. I've found I'm thankful for Veterans Day, and for veterans, more now than ever. I'm thankful that we still find it important in this country to honor those who have fought overseas--whether or not we agree with the war, whether or not we we know a soldier, whether or not we know how to spell "appreciate." (1 student spelled it "arpyshat"...) I'm thankful that this generation and the next one are being encouraged to thank those who made sacrifices for the freedom of America, even if it means writing a letter to a stranger.

Most of all I'm thankful for my own veterans. My brother, my father, my grandfathers, and my uncles.


In the foreground is my paternal grandfather's grave, in the background my father and brother. (And my dog. She loves veterans too.)

[photo taken by Becky Foutz 11/11/11]

Friday, November 11, 2011

Found(ation of) Gratitude: 10

Yesterday in my Race & Ethnicity class we were talking about "white privilege." We had a guest speaker, Dr. Perry Downs, and while he didn't touch much on the actual topic of white privilege (I also found it odd that like 90% of the non-white students decided not to come to class) he did say some things about his family that touched me. He and his wife have two biological and two adopted daughters, and over the years they had about 30 foster children.

My paternal grandparents had a foster home during the 80s, and (this number might not be right) I believe they had a few hundred foster children over the years. They adopted three children from the Philippines.

I had a feeling that Dr. Downs knew them. In sixth grade I met a life-long friend whose family also had foster kids, and he said he'd met my grandfather as well. He described him with details--including the handlebar mustache. When I asked Dr. Downs at the end of class if he'd ever met George and Virginia Foutz, he said yes, and I was not surprised.

#10. I've found I'm thankful for my grandparents. I might add in my maternal grandparents on a different day but now I just want to talk about George and Virgina. I'm thankful not just for their years of service, for all the hard work that went into having a foster home, but for the immense love that they shared with every child they met. They were such loving people. They lived with their hearts and their arms and their eyes open. They were adventurous and faithful. I miss them so much... but I am thankful for their lives, and for what they taught me.



Click here and you can see The Open Gate Ranch (their foster home) and what it looks like now. :)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Found(ation of) Gratitude: 9

A little over a year ago I was sitting in Melton Hall waiting to donate blood, when Danny Martin walked in. He looked agitated, and worried, which he later mentioned was because of his fear of blood. (Or needles? I don't remember.) He had called me a little earlier to inform me that he had something "important" to talk about. He sat down and asked in an anxious voice, "I have a proposition for you." Until that moment, I thought I was in trouble. I thought he was going to tell me we couldn't be friends for some awful reason, or that I wasn't good enough to be on the yearbook team, and then...

He offered me the job of Copy Editor. The previous person in the position had resigned, and since I had expressed interest in the paid yearbook positions, it was mine if I wanted it--which I did.

#9. I've found I'm thankful for my job. It's a lot of work for not much pay, but it's absolutely worth the effort. Last year was really difficult because we had a lot of catching up to do. But I love the writing and the editing, and I love the people I've worked with. My team this semester is small, but we're way ahead of schedule so our meetings are comfortable and relaxed. I'm thankful that they're willing to work so hard, and I'm thankful for all the people over the last year who have offered their information for articles.

I am also extremely thankful for the other editors. Danny, Emily, Adam and Krista are all incredible people and I've enjoyed working with them. We create memories--for ourselves, and for the university--and we do it beautifully.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Found(ation of) Gratitude: 8

Myself and the month of November. We're the kind of friends that like each other in a very distant way, because we seem to separate each other from what we really want--like snow and winter, or family, or love. I usually spend the month by myself, apart from that glorious thing called Thanksgiving.

I have debated for a few days now on when I should express my gratitude for my husband. And then, like a sudden rise in temperature, I am warmed by the thought that I'm not spending November by myself.

Joey and I have never been together in the autumn. We've been together for over two years, and aside from a brief trip home in November 2009 (during which I saw him for about half an hour and then had the worst Thanksgiving of my life), we've never seen each other in this beautiful season. We have spent Christmases together and summers and I've even flown home for spring break. [Once, he took the train to visit me in Chicago. It was technically spring, I think. But the snow would've suggested otherwise.]

I thought about this in the summer, after the wedding, and was exhilarated by the possibilities fall brings.





#8. I've found I'm thankful for my husband. I'm thankful for the joy he brings me every day. For the way we share laughter, sadness, and adventure. I'm thankful for how hard he works, and how willing he is to take care of me when my college stress overlaps with married life stress. I'm thankful for the free food he brings home from Panera. I'm thankful that we're both in one place, not 2000 miles apart, and that we can spend this season together. I'm thankful for the love we have, for the warmth in him, and for what a blessing he is to me.

Found(ation of) Gratitude: 6 & 7

It is in these early morning hours before class that I forget myself, or remember myself, and chide myself on forgetting to do this 2 days in a row. I admit it. I am feeling the mid-semester exhaustion which happens but twice a year. (The other half coming in March. And we all know how much I love March.)

#6. I've found I'm thankful for my Sunday afternoon prayer group. I got there early this week, so I stopped at a little park just past the house and took some photos. There were willow trees and a rippling pond (or small lake? I never know about these things in Illinois.) After I had quieted myself in nature for a good ten minutes, I went back to the house. And while it is impolite, and improper, to divulge the details of this group, I will say this: It's a wonderful gift to be surrounded by loving people in both joys, and sorrows.

#7. I've found I'm thankful for my schedule this semester. I'm usually stuck with classes before chapel, and classes right after. This causes a lack of eating lunch. Not eating lunch three days a week for four months straight can really take a toll on a person. This semester, I have large spaces of time between each class. Yesterday, Joey and I took an hour nap before my 2:15 class. It was cozy and restful, and much needed. Oh, how I love naps.

Perhaps #8 later. The day has only just begun.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Found(ation of) Gratitude: 4 & 5

I gave myself a haircut yesterday. I've been trimming my own bangs, well, since I got them in high school. (and no, the time I cut my own hair when I was 5 does not count.) This is the second time I've done the whole thing, layers and all, without any help. I've also now given Joey 3 complete haircuts, and he'll probably need another one in a few weeks.

There are 2 reasons that I cut my own hair, and Joey's hair. The first is that it's a lot less expensive than going to a salon or even to a friend who knows how to cut hair. Why spend $10-20 when I can do it myself for free? (plus Joey makes a joke every time I cut his hair. "I'm the only man I know that gets to kiss his barber." Ha.)

The second reason it's certainly more adventurous. If it looks stupid, I can only blame myself. If it looks awesome, then I feel more awesome than I would have if I'd gotten a professional cut.

And there's a third reason! Someday, when I have kids, I will hopefully be skilled enough to cut their hair. At least until they decide they want something crazy done, and then they can pay for it themselves.

So for November 4th, (4.) I've found I'm thankful for these hair cutting scissors that my mother sent me in August. They are useful for all of the reasons above.

(no, I am not actually cutting my hair in the photo. Who cuts their hair in front of a webcam?)


Also, I like my haircut.


And now for today's topic. Hopefully after this I will be able to keep up with the daily posts.

I wasn't sure what to do for today. I went to a clothing swap this morning, so I considered talking more about the Trinity community and how I'm thankful for people who share. Sharing is great! But... not what I want to talk about.

I also discovered that today is Art Garfunkel's 70th birthday. I've probably loved Simon & Garfunkel since I was in the womb. One of my first favorite songs was 'Bright Eyes' from one of Art Garfunkel's solo albums. My dad told me that it was written, or related to, the book Watership Down. They made a movie out of the book, which I found slightly horrible as a child. I also tried to read the book, and didn't like it much either. But the song I loved, and the artist I loved.

5. I've found I'm thankful for Art Garfunkel, and all the music he and Paul Simon have made over the years.


Doesn't he look a little like Dr. Graddy? You know it's true.

Now, click this link to listen to 'Bright Eyes' and watch a bunny movie. I mean, a montage from the Watership Down movie. (Don't worry, the song is worth it, if you hate bunnies or something.)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Found(ation of) Gratitude: 3

I meant to post this last night, but I found myself exhausted at the end of the day. I'll explain why.

On Thursday nights, a group of students at my university go into the city to visit refugee families. These families come from all over the world. Mine in particular came from Burma. We first met them just 2 days after they arrived in Chicago. They are a husband, wife, daughter, and the wife's younger sister. The daughter is three years old, and is probably learning English the fastest, and usually takes up most of the time we spend in their home. We don't do anything productive, really. They bring us apples and make us tea and my partner and I (everyone goes with partner to visit a family) usually bring something fun, like cards. Yesterday I brought PlayDo.

This is not my favorite thing to do on Thursday nights. Thursdays are long days that start with co-teaching 7th graders for about 4 hours, then some classes, then maybe dinner. We leave for the city at 5:30, and get back at about 9:30 or 10. Thus, when finally returned to my apartment, all I wanted was sleep.

It's also not my favorite thing because--believe it or not--people who don't speak English and don't have anything in common with you are hard to have conversations with! The wife is a little younger than I am, so I'm sure if she knew the right words we could talk about shopping or the weather. But the husband doesn't talk much at all, and the sister is 13 and not interested in much of anything, that I can tell. The three-year-old, whom we have nicknamed Tessy, dominates almost all social interactions. She's loud and crazy. She makes it less awkward.

And I know it's worth it.

3. I've found I'm thankful for programs like the one I'm in, so that I can go and be with people who have no friends, no connections, no comfort. I'm thankful that I was born in a country where I'm free to speak my mind and be passionate about my faith. I'm thankful I don't need to be afraid of being kicked out of my own country for supporting the wrong religion or the wrong politician. And I'm thankful to live in a world where there will always be people to help others in need--even if that need is only friendship.



(#4 Later...)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Found(ation of) Gratitude: 1 & 2

Starting today, I'm going to list something I'm thankful for every day of November. I was going to post it all in Facebook statuses, but that limits my words. And then, I found this.





I made this paper heart in 5th grade, November 1999. It had been a mostly good year for my family (so far.) I don't remember my brothers fighting with my parents. Everybody seemed to be happy, or at least outwardly content, and they tolerated each other. I went to Disneyland that summer (a lifelong dream), and also got an American Girl doll for my birthday in August. And in 5th grade, you could be in band, so I had a shiny new flute that I was learning to play, although I gave up on it in the spring.

I didn't write down that I was thankful for my teacher, but I was. Ms. Trudeau was my favorite teacher, at least until I got to high school. She was full of love and life and creativity, and was always encouraging me to be as artistic as possible. She read all the first drafts of the first novels I wrote. (yep. I was that young when I caught the bug.) And her favorite shape was the heart--thus, the heart-shaped project, which has led to (hopefully) month-long inspiration.

Since I forgot to do this yesterday, I have 2 things to be thankful for today.

#1. I've found I'm thankful for education. I am thankful for the teachers I've been with, good and bad, and for the things I have learned even when I thought I wasn't learning. I'm thankful for the classrooms I've been in as an "almost teacher" and for my mentors in those classrooms, and for the middle schoolers that keep me on my toes. I'm thankful for the ability to learn. I'm thankful for the ability to teach.

#2. I've found I'm thankful for the Trinity Security officers. I left my keys on my desk when I left the apartment today. As class was ending I had a feeling that I'd forgotten something, but figured I would remember it when I got home. Well, I did remember it, when I couldn't get up the elevator, let alone onto my floor or into my apartment. Joey is working until about 5 o'clock today, therefore I would have had to wait around for 2 hours. That didn't seem like a good idea. So I called TIU Security, which I keep in my phone contacts for security reasons, and a few minutes later someone showed up to let me in. Sure, it was an awkward trip up the elevator. But I'm thankful that I'm sitting here at my desk drinking tea instead of withering away in the lounge downstairs, with nothing to read but Lord Byron's Manfred.

More tomorrow. I promise. I will probably come back to the heart project, and touch on some of the things in there. Definitely books, and my family. Probably not Disneyland.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Lots of Big Words

I may have mentioned last semester, sometime between January and May, how much I loathed one of my classes. Survey of Contemporary Critical Theory. You might ask yourself... what does that even mean? Well, I can't even really tell you, because the class is basically all about how nothing means anything. If you break up a "text" into small of pieces called binaries, then they all just exist by themselves and there is no connection or story and thus... it means nothing.

Let me tell you what else means nothing: the grade I painfully achieved in said "survey."

I love the professor who taught the course. I love the people I took the course with. But the content was nothing short of infuriating and degree-boggling and made me question the very significance of my love for writing. Oh yes. It's true.

To make this all worth, I spent the whole semester wondering why I was in the class. I was fairly certain it counted neither as a Gen. Ed. course or a required English course for my major, and still I went to class at 8 o'clock every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning. My adviser had told me to sign up for the class. So I did. And yet, I can't remember her saying why. I can't remember if she even knew what the class was about.

So now I have a little box at the bottom of my degree audit, where all of the other useless classes go--the other ones that don't count toward anything, like Studio Art or the AP class I took in high school.

All that work. All that strife. All the late nights writing papers (and then having them lost by the professor or not printed correctly.) All the mornings of breakfast-less shaking and yawning. All the head-scratching and book rumplings in frustrating. Worth nothing.

They don't mean anything at all.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Stop trying.

Stop trying to impress people with your personal accomplishments. Not even God cares about your worldly success. When you get to heaven, do you think God is going to say, "Hey! Congrats on losing all that weight! You look good." Is he going to say, "I'm glad you took all those vacations. Being culturally knowledgeable and tan is really important in heaven." Is he going to say, "You sure are good at being right."

When you're gone, people remember you for the things you say. The things you obsess over. The words you use and the actions you take are what's left over. What you talk about day and night, the stuff you buy, the pictures you take, the people you spend time with, the books you read, the off-hand comments you make that you think no one hears... those are the things left behind.

So do you want to be remembered as the person who lost 300 pounds, the person who had a condo in Hawaii, or the guy who always had to have the last word?

In the end, when you've died, nobody is going to care that you lost 10 pant sizes. No one is going to care how many trips you made to the Big Island. And no one is going to care about how well you argued, or how perfect your grammar was. No one is going to care that you made $600,000 a year or that you drove a shiny Ferrari or went to a lot of operas/rock concerts. No one is going to care if you bought all organic/fair trade products, or recycled all your cans/jars etc. to make Martha-Stewart-esque projects to put on your shelves. No one is going to care if you had the coolest skinny jeans or the flashiest phone or the biggest TV.

You want to know what people will care about?


How much you loved.


So stop trying to impress me. Stop trying to show the world how much how much holier you are, or more politically correct, or tolerant, or more adventurous, or successful, than "the other guy."

Love God. Love people. Everything else just gets in the way.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Absolute and resolved.

If I am but shaken,
I will not be.
Clutching hands are forbidden
to touch what they seek,
to grasp that thing
which was not always but
now I keep out of your reach.
I have exhaled the fog
which clouds visions,
blurs out dreams,
and seems to keep Spring at bay
longer than the even the frost
would deem appropriate.
You will change
what I have already altered.
You will not find me
defeated, or broken, or
even within your sight.
I have stood back from the precipice
above that well-loved danger,
far from the woman
who gave undeserved affection
to a wayward path.
There is no persuasion strong enough
to make me believe
I'm lost again.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Intrusion

It's a hard journey to be
a person
or a friend
to other persons.
And people keep up
a wall
to keep out
the people
that might hurt them
or hold them
just a little too close--
just in case.
Just in case
of what?
What will happen
if you happen
to let the wall down
and care about
people
more than what people
think?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Completeness, not complacency

For the last 2-ish months Joey and I have slowly been settling into our new lives. He has a job at Panera Bread. He was hired on my first day of classes, and his time there so far has been sublime. The people are great, the atmosphere is great, and I don't have to worry if he's going to come home in a disgruntled mood. (instead, he always comes home with free bread and pastries.)

My copy editor position is almost in full swing. Not a lot to write about yet, since the semester has just begun, but an entirely new team of writers has proven to be a challenge--and a blessing. It's good to start the year out with a complete team. We won't have an insurmountable catch-up period in mid-October, that's for sure.

I have been considering when I'm really going to feel like we live here, and I think we've reached that point. Classes and jobs and activities are flowering all over the place and blooming into a vast, colorful schedule. (seriously, I designed a schedule calendar, and it's color-coded.) We've budgeted things and know where to buy which groceries. We have a microwave to warm up the coffee which is always made hot but never imbibed at the right speed. And finally, after several purchases and returns, and almost purchases, we have a couch.

Yes. I have found happiness in a couch. You don't know how much you need one, until you're trying to have a meal with your husband in your tiny apartment and there isn't a safe place to sit next to him and also eat your food. You don't know how hard cuddling is until your bed is on the floor and the headboard (aka "the wall behind the bed" is made of cement.

I can have hot coffee and free bread and do my homework while sitting on the couch next to my husband. I have settled the issue of "settling in." And now, onto some new adventures.

Hint: I just joined something called Refugee Ministry. :)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Room 210 (Home)

This update is a little late, but that's because I spent 99% of yesterday with a dead phone.
Surprise, we made it! I am currently sitting in the mostly empty apartment, waiting for Joey to get here with breakfast.
Yesterday was long. That's all I have to say. No other words of description. We stopped at Wall Drug and Joey bought me an early birthday present. We encountered more rain, lots of bugs, and the card we were using for gas had a temporary hold on it because we were using it in so many states. There were long stretches of construction zones in which we could only go 55. And long stretches of regular freeway that were still 55. We got to Trinity at about midnight, slept on some friends' floors, and got up in time to sign the lease at 10.
It was a long day. The longest day. But now we are here, and my married life can officially begin.

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Monday, July 25, 2011

hermosa south dakota

Day 2 has been measured out with equal parts adventure and frustration. We accidentally bought premium gas. Joey almost broke the car by overusing/abusing the cruise control. He pulled over while I was napping and I kind of freaked out. Then in Wyoming we encounted some serious rain, soaking the front corners of the futon strapped on top of the car. On our way to the campsite we had some trouble with directions. And then when we got to the site, they had trouble with the credit card machine, only to realize they'd already charged us. At the end of the day we visited Mt. Rushmore, and not only had the "year pass" increased by a dollar, they only took cash. It all worked out, but it was weird and complicated.
Joey is currently setting up the tent. Tomorrow is going to be about a 16 hour drive, so it's sleepy time. Finally.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

97 miles to Helena

Day 1 of our most ultimate trip is almost over. We didn't meet anyone interesting. We did stop at the Wild Horses Monument and the 50,000 Silver Dollar Casino/Gift Shop. (soon to be 100,000. or so I heard.) Two days left. We're already very tired. Tomorrow, Mount Rushmore.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

turn it all around

As I look around me I find I am surrounded by a lifetime's belongings. Shoes, scarves, stuffed animals. A plethora of poems and notebooks, drawings and sketches. File boxes, text books, bank statements. A white dress. A long veil. A box of shells from a beach far away that holds more nostalgia than I can explain.

And most of the important things have already been loaded into the car, a green trunk full of canisters and my collection of coffee mugs. Suitcases of sundresses and faded jeans. A box of candles.

There is still so much I'm leaving behind, and while I know that I won't miss it, and I know there's no room left, I wish we could take it all. I wish I could hold on to every tangible memory, so that when I get old I won't have to try to remember. It will just be there, at my fingertips.

I've been waiting for this my whole life. Anxious to grow up, get out, to give myself to somebody else. And I met that point of adulthood gladly. But there's been this strange delay for the last 4 weeks. I never thought I'd be married, still sleeping in my old bedroom, surrounded by my childhood.

I really am saying goodbye this time. The car is almost packed. In the morning we'll make a pot of coffee, kiss my parents and the dog, fill the tank with gas and I will cry all the way to Chicago.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Next time, a nom de plume

Do you ever have one of those moments when you're finally about to carry out a large decision, and you come face to face with the realization that... it's not nearly as climactic as you anticipated?

I did. ALL WEEK. Sigh. Let me explain.

A few months ago: I received an e-mail from the records office, asking what name I wanted printed on my degree. So Joey and I discussed this over a week or so and finally concluded that I would add 'Foutz' to my middle name. (because it's far too perfect to give up completely.) So my degree will read "Katherine Megan Foutz Voss."

A few weeks ago: I got married. I did not change my name immediately.

Last week: I wanted to know if it was better to change the Social Security card or the license first. I had a "renew your license!" notice in the mail and thus made a whole bunch of phone calls...at night... which resulted in NO information whatsoever. I spent a lot of time listening to a computer tell me things I didn't need to know. I scoured the websites for direction but found none. Lost, confused, and ultimately very frustrated, I gave up and went to bed.

Also last week: I called the computer back and told it I wanted to talk to a person. I asked me several times if I was sure. Then, while being on hold, the computer reminded me every thirty seconds that "Talking to the computer is so much better" blah blah blah. And THEN when I called the DOL, I actually got message saying, "We're so busy, we can't even put you on hold."

Monday: Joey and I drove down to the Social Security Administration in Puyallup, had an awkward conversation with a security officer, had to wipe up drool on a counter from the previous client, and ended up not being able to do anything. We drove home. And instead of going to Seattle for the required certified copies of our marriage license, we bought groceries for the move to IL.

Tuesday: We drove all the way to Seattle, and bought two copies of the license for $6 total. After deciding we had time for nothing else (because government offices close at 4:30) we visited my brother and went home.

Wednesday: We drove back to Puyallup, to the original SSA office, and had an even longer and more awkward conversation with the security officer who apparently is a recovering alcoholic and used to collect bottle caps. We gave the nice man behind the plastic window the certified copy.... and he gave it back to us. He didn't ask for my I.D. So we still had two copies. And he gave me a receipt, showing I had changed my name, so I could prove it at the DOL.

So we went to the DOL where I originally got my license, and I was greeted by the nicest DOL associate I've ever encountered. She gave me a number. We sat in some strange chairs which Joey proceeded to break. (just kidding. they were just really noisy chairs.) And when they called me up, the woman behind the counter didn't ask for my social security card, or the receipt. She took the certificate, and gave it back. We still had two copies.

It took a long time to explain to her my intentions with my name--yes, I'm adding that to my middle name. No, don't hyphenate it. Yes, I know that will be part of my middle name. Yes, that's what I meant.

Long story short... I could have saved $3 and several conversations and a lot of gas. The important thing is that I'm now officially a Voss. (but forever and always a Foutz.)

Monday, July 11, 2011

What bwings us togevah today

I had been doubtful. I had stumbled. I took a long and strange journey and it gave me a plethora of problems and a new sense of "anxiety" that I thought I would never encounter.

But I finally got married.

And no one can really tell you how wonderful it is to wake up to a loving face every day. The telling is never quite accurate. You can't truly know how pure that moment is... until you're in that moment.

And I can't explain the joy I feel when I realize, over and over again, that I really DO get to spend the rest of my life with this person. It actually happened, it's really permanent, I sincerely belong to someone and he belongs to me. There is no going back. We're in this for the long haul.

Speaking of the long haul, we're going to start it next Sunday, the 17th, which also happens to be Joey's birthday. We've spent the last few weeks living with my parents, which sounds awkward, but it's actually been pretty nice. Joey is spending this week painting houses with my dad, and while he's home we're going to try to squeeze in a few last social calls and (of course) pack up everything. Oh joy.

It's strange to think that a week from now, we'll be on the road. I will have made the IL/WA trek THREE times in the last year. Once there, once back, and once there again. And this time I'm going to make the journey with someone who has never been on a road trip. BUT he does love to drive so I'm hoping it will be tolerable, if not enjoyable.

And that's my update. I have too much to do to say anything else. I'm off to donate all my worldly belongings to Goodwill.

Monday, June 13, 2011

This shouldn't be so hard!



It's something I have been saying lately. 'This Shouldn't Be So Hard', 'This is Ridiculous', 'I don't Understand Why This Is Taking So Long', 'Why Aren't These People Calling me Back?', 'I'm Too Tired to Do This', 'I Don't Like Planning', 'This Is Stupid', 'I Hate Everything', 'Shut Up and Give me That Other Spool of Ribbon Before I Strangle You With It', etc. And the list goes on.

Planning a wedding = EXTREMLY DIFFICULT. It's a lot of work and a lot of stress and inevitably a lot of mess. Usually the outcome is worth it, at least that's the hope. But if you ever knew my grandmother Virginia, you understand that planning large events with a great deal of personal strife is a family trait. It's in my blood. I kind of can't help it. My brother recently told me how annoying it was that "we Foutzes" are always commenting about characteristics that are just "part of our Foutz-ness." (But he likes to plan large events too!)

In light of this, I have found new and innovative ways to cope with the planning process. Now, I have been up all day and all night, so I am very tired. I was going to write this blog earlier but then I went and watched 'Oklahoma!' instead. So this is going to be short.

A Few of My Favorite Things About Planning My Own Wedding:
1. Writing reminders in Sharpie on my palm. i.e. "Drink water!"
2. Writing reminders on the side of my thumb. i.e. "Do laundry."
3. Writing lists and consequently forgetting about them, but doing the tasks on them anyway.
4. Writing lists of other lists I need to write. Yes. I do this.
5. Starting one important project in the living room and then feeling anxious and starting something upstairs and then feeling antisocial and starting one in the kitchen and then the dining room etc. etc. until my father calls all of it "junk" and my mother makes me a "downstairs basket" to put my "junk" in. Saywhat?
6. Going to get a marriage license and getting laughed at by a cop when we asked how to get to the licensing office because he thought we meant the DOL.
7. Buying lots and lots of ribbon and looking very serious while doing so in the craft section at Wal-mart. The more serious I look, the less those creepy men who go to Wal-Mart late at night in Bonney Lake will stare at me. Yes, I know I look funny. This is called a dress. Sorry, forgot my overalls in the trailer.
8. Crying. A lot. At everything. Happy, sad... whatever.
9. Still getting more sleep now than I ever do at school.
10. Having full rights to pester my friends endlessly and then give them really cool presents for it later.

And now it's past my bedtime. That's right, I'm going to sleep.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A new depression

Weddings are a lot of work. Did you know that? Especially when you are only able to do any wedding-related work for the 6 weeks before the wedding. And I've been engaged for almost a year and a half. That's what happens when you go to school 2000 miles away from home (and from your future spouse.)
So, after all the work I put in, and all the hard things I've had to endure, I want the whole event to actually be successful. Especially because after this, I'm moving back to Illinois indefinitely. I'm not going to be here. I'm not coming home for holidays.
I suppose that's why it hurts so much when people here tell me they're not coming. It's possible that this is the last chance people will have to see me or Joey, or my last chance to see them.
And I waited a while to mention this because I don't want to guilt people into coming. But they should be aware of what's happening, at least. I just hate this sinking feeling, that I might not see some of these people again.

Friday, May 20, 2011

for better or for worse

Today, I am working on my vows. And they are making me cry. They're not even done yet and I'm emotional. They'll never be done. I mean... if I'm going to be honest, they will never be good enough at all. I am such a word person. I write as much as I breathe. And I know I have a lifetime to give Joey good and heartfelt words, but none of them are going to be as public or significant as this. None of them will have the same expectations. I want these to be meaningful, and memorable. They need to be perfect. Good words come to me often, but now... I must find the perfect words.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

I know it's May. But it's May in Washington. Yesterday, my mama and I drove home through wind, fog, rain, and lots of dark mountains. So today, I am home, and I want home comforts like coffee and candles at my desk.

Friday, April 29, 2011

miles and stones


Did you know that my previous post was actually the 50th post I've done on this blog? I'd call that an accomplishment. The only other blog I kept up consistently (until I graduated high school) was my Xanga. Good times.

Speaking of accomplishments, and high school, and good times...

I recently did a facebook search for some of the most memorable people I went to school with. I didn't go to high school with any of them, mind you. In the middle of 6th grade we moved from Auburn to Buckley and thus I started at a new school. And after those four months of unspeakably disgusting and horrifying things--I'm not exaggerating--I started at private school.

So most of these people I have not been in contact with. A few of them stayed my friends for a couple years after I left Auburn, and some I reconnected with via MySpace (ha) during high school. And back then I was met with bitter disappointment when my previous best friend and first "boyfriend" started posting his sex life on MySpace (haha) and was ignored by people who I thought had been good acquaintances.

Today, I discovered something much better: me. I am better. My life is better. Not that it's a contest or a competition, but I really am.

None of them have left Washington, and most haven't left Auburn. A few have gone to community college. I only know of one that went to a university. One or two got married, lots had babies. Not necessarily in that order or even in combination with.

And I could have been one of those. I could have stayed in Auburn and continued to "date" my best friend. I could have gone to Auburn High School (or would I have transferred to the new and fancier Auburn Mountainview High School?) and spent my time taking secular classes and making myself secular-ly artsy and dramatic in the big PAC that I so often visited as a child. I could have married my best friend and had babies. Or maybe we would have broken up and I'd date a few other guys. I could have moved in with someone and gone off the deep end.

Here I was, all this time, thinking that if only I could have kept those friends, things might have been different. I have spent so many years wondering how my life might have changed if I had stayed in Auburn. So many hardships prevented. So many discomforts avoided. Here I was, taking everything for granted.

As much as I loved those people, and would love them still if we continued to be friends, if I had stayed I would have made a complete mess of myself.

But I didn't. I am better. My life is better. It's not written in stone or anything, but I have definitely, blessedly, come a long way.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

on my list

I am 59 days away from getting married. And many of you know that getting married often involves writing things. Writing lots of lists, writing invitations, writing playlists or programs or prayers. Or vows.

This month I get to write vows. I am excited about this. Joey is more excited. So excited that he kept saying "I'll keep it under 600 words!" and... well you get the picture.

But I also have to write something else this month, which is intrinsically related to my wedding but not about my wedding.

I get to finish my novel. Many of you know that this novel is semi-autobiographical about the worst year of my life. It's about a few of the people I knew, or at least the people I talked to, and how they impacted me. How they impacted the rest of my life.

And I have to get it out all now before I commit myself to someone else because if all that crap is still holding me back as I'm walking down the aisle, I am not going to be a very good wife and I won't have a very good outlook on my husband. I deserve more than that, and so does Joey.

There is still sometimes a panic that rises in me when I encounter some of those people and find myself dropped into those memories. I fear they will come back and chase me down a dark alley and beat me to death. Or, I fear they will just torment me until completely lose my mind.

It's true that I have come a long way from that place, from that person that I have been. But there's a finality in writing the story of it all. There is a concrete permanence to it, a solidity. I am giving the story a space in which it can exist without growing, without hurting me, because I'm controlling it. I am locking it inside 50,000 words. And once I've put it there, it can't get out.

So if you like, you can travel with me on this journey. I don't know how many words I have left but it's a lot. If you have the time, push me, tell me I can do it. Remind me why I must.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

crying out for


Why must this be the constant
I find--oh, inconsistency.
Why must you mar and mangle,
why must you tangle me?
I and we have forged connections,
don't break it off,
don't let it be.

Monday, April 18, 2011

(Letter, 13 October 1819)


"My love has made me selfish. I cannot exist without you — I am forgetful of every thing but seeing you again — my Life seems to stop there — I see no further. You have absorb'd me. I have a sensation at the present moment as though I was dissolving — I should be exquisitely miserable without the hope of soon seeing you. [...] I have been astonished that Men could die Martyrs for religion — I have shudder'd at it — I shudder no more — I could be martyr'd for my Religion — Love is my religion — I could die for that — I could die for you." (Letter, 13 October 1819)
from John Keats to Fanny Brawne.

Monday, April 11, 2011

one who falls down will grow up



There are places we return to when we are scared. The universe is vast and terrifying and unfamiliar, and in our darkest moments we turn to a space or hole or corner that is recognizable.

And inevitably, we don't want to return to some places. Memories hold fast to walls and ceilings and soak into the furniture, they lock the windows and never come out. The pain that started in that place may never leave.

But like nature does to a forest with a fire, so can a memory be erased. And something new grows there. You let go of what had been and make room for something better, something more beautiful, something to take away the hurt.

Within the context of this renewal, I have been thinking about things lately like my wedding, and some drama regarding the building it is in.

I have been thinking about old friends.
I have been thinking about the person I have been.

And I have been praying that God will make a new space out of the old one, new friends and a new "self." I was listening to the song "Always" by Switchfoot in the car, and just started weeping in the second verse.

I asked that the beginning of my new life (in 75 days!) provide a place for others to start over with each other.
It doesn't matter how deep the hurt has been, God can create a space for healing, not hurt.
Open yourself to new healing, not old hurt.

"Always"
This is the start
This is your heart
This is the day you were born
This is the sun
These are your lungs
This is the day you were born

And I am always, always
Always yours

And I am always, always
Always yours

These are the scars
Deep in your heart
This is the place you were born
And this is the hole
Where most of your soul
Comes ripping out
From the places you've been torn

And it is always, always
Always yours
And I am always, I'm always
Always yours

Oo, oo, oo, oo
Oo, oo, oo, oo
Hallelujah, I'm caving in
Hallelujah, I'm in love again
Hallelujah, I'm a wretched man
Hallelujah, every breath is a second chance
Yeah

And it is always, always
Always yours
And I am always, I'm always
Always yours
Yeah, yeah
I am always yours
I'm yours
Yeah, yeah
I am always yours
I'm always yours

Thursday, April 7, 2011

because it's national poetry month

As the man beholds the woman
As the woman beholds the man,
Curiously they note each other,
As each other they only can.
-Bryan Procter

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

cordially

I sent out these papery treasures today. My hands are sore and my carpals have more extensive damage than a week ago, but at least now there will be people at my wedding to see how arthritic my poor little fingers are.
Don't worry, I used a sponge to seal them. All 208.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

wisdom

I wrote this on June 7, 2010. Some things need to be dusted off every once in a while.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

coming attractions

I am SO excited for the final concert this year. We're even recording "It Ain't Over", an original song by Devlin. (also, I'm a soloist this year!) It's gonna be good.

Friday, March 25, 2011

from whom all blessings flow

This previous Sunday my grandfather Arlo Robbins passed away at the age of 96. We have known for a long time, clearly, that he was on his way out. And so it took a few days to hit me.

But it did hit me, this afternoon at about 4 o'clock. I was watching a Thanksgiving episode of Everybody Loves Raymond. And I thought about Thanksgiving with my family, the women cooking all day, and the men watching football with Arlo until dinner. And grandpa would make us all circle up and hold hands in that tiny room, and we (his wife of over 60 years, his 5 children, and 8 grandchildren) would sing the doxology.

I bet he's singing it right now.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

words that don't cover up other words

Sitting here, I realize, that I have been severely let down. And everyone lets you down, but some people do it in unexpected ways. Sometimes a friend is late picking you up from the train station or they accidentally break your favorite coffee cup. Sometimes your parents forget to tell you important things and then spring the news on you during Christmas break. Sometimes your clcosest confidant says hurtful things out of ignorance, and doesn't know how to apologize later.
And sometimes, your faithful leader, trusted friend, a person who has guided you through your own stupidity and some really tough years, a person who has *saved your life* won't talk to you anymore.
I don't know what to do with this. I wish I was strong enough to point it out in person and not on a blog.
You let me down.
So that makes today... well, let's just say I haven't found anything that great lately. And if I'm not finding... what am I doing?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Preserve

I secretly went here
alone
without a coat.
And maybe nothing
protected me from the wind
and my calls could not lure
the squalling birds.
But the one who made the air
that finds uncovered skin
also made the sunset
and made the signpost by the exit
which secretly led me here
to be in a presence not my own.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Tree 1236

This tree begins strongly
where others fondly
remain in their dead endings.
Her every bud reaches,
as spring beseeches
to bloom on branches bending.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Shameless promotion!

Pretty pretty please with whipped cream, a cherry, and rainbow sprinkles on top, PLEASE vote for me and Joey.

http://www.ultimateweddingcontest.com/entry/146971

Simple directions:
Click on the link.
Click on the pink "vote" button.
It will ask you to sign in, you can do this with a facebook account or a twitter account. (to my knowledge.)

And that's it!

out of the box



Look at this picture, and tell me what you see. A whole world can be seen in such a box. It has lived in the bottom right corner of my closet for several years now, hiding its treasure and biding its time, until a fateful day last week when I released it from the prison-closet and let out all the dust.

I said in my last blog I was going through everything I owned. All of my worldly possessions, examined on the bedroom floor. So here's a start.

Within this box I hold several pieces of my childhood. Some of them cherished, some unwanted, some simply strange. I will make more posts like this later, with other of the 144 pictures I took during my spring break full of cleaning and scavenging.


Here is a doll, well-used and dirty. She has a hat to match her frock, and I found it later. This doll fascinated me as a little girl. I never named her. I don't actually remember playing with her, I only remember starting at her strangely perfect features.


A beloved book, which later led to a beloved movie and a beloved musician. They made a movie out of this, a cartoon called "Really Rosie." All the music was done by Carole King. During the time that we lived in West Seattle I would get the movie from the library every other week, which is probably as often as they would allow it, and I would watch it and sing along. To say I drove my family up the wall would be an understatement, as there was a long period where they forbade me to watch it at all.


Back when the Seattle Mariners still played in the Kingdome, my family would spend many weekends sitting on cold, cement benches watching the game from afar. My two brothers and I each got this shirt, and wore them faithfully. However, being 6 years old (or 7, I can't quite remember) the shirt went down past my knees. I faithfully wore it to bed for many years. Anyone know how much this thing would go for on eBay? (if it would go for anything at all...?)

This box was also home to a stuffed toy dog, an ancient comic puzzle, a flannel nightgown made by my aunt, some ludicrous paper dolls and many beloved childhood books. It would take a lifetime to explain them all.

But I will promise this: I will talk about books. I will show you books and talk about them and by golly if I had them with me I would record myself reading them aloud. And I will show you pictures and read you poems, and you will see me finding myself a million times over.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Process (part 1)

So much of this blog is based on loss, a greater sense of emptiness than forgetfulness. But I've never really touched on the concept of losing something on purpose. You might not think it's possible.

But it is. I'm doing it right now. I've spent the last two days at home going through all my... stuff. All my crap. All my life. Some people's lives can be identified and remembered in diaries and photographs and shared songs. You listen to an old mixed CD and hear laughter within the music, you see a road trip. You relive memories in pictures and scribbled gossip.

My life is recognized in all of these, as expected, yet there is so much more that I find to be part of my life as well. As an artist, I have probably drawn and painted and sketched thousands of pictures. And yes, I have also made things out of clay and fabric and noodles. But I am most defined by what is on paper. Today I went through a portfolio box of drawings, some made by my brothers before I was even born. I drew a farm being attacked by a giant chicken, and an Iroquois Indian Chief standing with his daughter. I painted a mountain landscape in three different color schemes. I sketched a teapot. And then I filed through several notebooks, filled with old poems and prayers and "note to self"s.

I took pictures of a lot of things. And when that was over, I went through everything a second time, and more than half of it it now resides in the recycling bin in the garage.

I am choosing what I want to remember. I am disregarding the parts of myself that are too blatantly selfish or bitter or ignorant, the pieces of Katie that didn't listen to God and the thoughts I held onto which had no merit.

You might wonder why exactly I'm doing this. Why the sudden need to purge myself of drawings I made in 1997? Why am I ripping apart a notebook from 9th grade?

Because in 113 days I'm going to be married and I do not have the physical room for all these objects, nor do I have the mental space to hold all the memories attached to them.

And that was just today. I went through Barbies yesterday. (all but one of which will be sold at a garage sale this summer.) Tomorrow... books.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

come on come on come on

I find airports are entirely too transitional. Something should be normal, like a trip home, and yet I feel like I'm standing at the precipice of some large and tiresome adventure. (maybe that's because of the invasive secruity check-in and the fact that I've already been here for 3.5 hours.)
It's just home. And only for 10 days. But perhaps I will surprise myself, and be intrepid. Or perhaps something intrepid is about to find me.

Monday, February 28, 2011

separate houses

moment of truth. so this is leaving a life of dependency. i find myself seeing the old me in new colors. we can be happy in separate houses of happiness. paint the walls whatever we want and still be neighbors. this is understanding. this is the purest thing i can think of. i don't know how i didn't see, don't know why i let it tie me down. i have found the answer, and i am freeing myself with it.

Friday, February 18, 2011

yet to come

There's something aggravating about change--aside from the fact that it often causes one to spin in circles and pull out hair. When a change comes, you can feel it pretty intensely. As Doris from The Owl and the Pussycat would say, "I find it enervating." Not always. Some change is good. And when it's good you want to share it with the world. When it's bad sometimes you also want to share it with the world, but with a different response.

Here's the problem: you can never own your change. It does not belong to you. You can express yourself a thousand ways and feel the change moving your world, you can let the experience influence everything around you. But it's not yours. And do you want to know why?

It's because it didn't happen to you first.

I'm getting married in 4 months and 1 week. This is exciting! Right? I mean, it's not every day that people get... oh. Right. People get married all the time. Not a big deal to most people--especially people who are jaded by bad past relationships.

Another example: I just got a credit card. In order for wedding planning to go easier, and to make it home for spring break, I applied for an Alaska Airlines card. My parents have had one for many years and after a few weeks of deliberation I filled out the form, and was approved less than 24-hours later. The desire to post it as my Facebook status was almost unbearable. "Hello entire-social-network! I have a credit card! I'm going to buy things with it and hate myself for it later!" This is not exciting. It is, because it's another step into adulthood. But I know plenty of people younger than me who have had credit cards for years, and for reasons not nearly as good as mine.

Change is also not exclusive. Yes, there is empathy. But empathy only goes so far. You know who is most excited about babies? Pregnant people, or people trying to get pregnant. The people who are most excited about new haircuts, are the people sitting in salon chairs. The people feeling most overwhelmed by doctorate programs, are the people who are about to get a "PhD" next to their name.

And people most thrilled to be planning a wedding, are the people who are about to get married, tie the knot, etc.

Yes, someday, I will stop mentioning the wedding in every blog post. I know that I'm not the first person to get married. But for now, I am excited, and while this change is not exclusive to me or exciting to everyone else I am going to take full advantage of these happy feelings.

Tuuuurn and face the change, ch-ch-changes...

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

How could you be so impartial



We had a blizzard last week. The entire world has probably not realized this, due to the many desserts the Earth employs and the oceans where other sorts of natural catastrophes occur, but Illinois actually has the capability of declaring a "state of disaster" after a blizzard. School was closed for 2.5 days and the campus as covered in several feet of crappy, non-packing, anti-snowman white stuff.

Now, I don't know about you, but this is a memorable thing. And I wish I could say it was memorable simply because I built a snowman that mistakenly had female body parts, and because the Saturday after I went to the Chicago Botanic Gardens and they were glorious, and because I watched a lot of movies and drank a lot of hot chocolate and took a lot of naps. However, this is not the case.

Things happen in a blizzard. Conversations, mostly, if you're trapped on-campus. And most of these conversations I will not relay to you, for privacy's sake.

But I can say that I thought a lot about marriage, and relationships, and love. Two days ago I was sitting at the computer watching the post-blizzard snow fall softly onto the already 10' high hills of plowed grossness. My heart was suddenly burdened by a whole nature of love-ly things. Friends who have perhaps chosen badly, or have chosen well but act badly. I thought about my relationship with Joseph and the impending date of our wedding.

I had an epiphany in the snow-sighted moment: 4 1/2 months is not a long time. That's how long I have left of my unmarried life. In the brought spectrum of my existence, whether it be just these 22.5 years or if I live to be 80, 4 1/2 months is a tiny speck in which to fulfill any so-called "last requests" and to get all my prideful independence (as opposed to the normal independence) out of my system.

I'm not married yet. So I don't have some universal wisdom for you. I haven't yet experienced any marital adventures. But I know what love is, and what it's supposed to look like, and what it's not supposed to look like.

So here is my plea:
If you love each other, make it unbending love. Don't let it swerve in the face of conflict or misunderstanding.
If you love other, speak to each other. Don't say just what you want to say, but what the other person needs to hear. Be unselfish with your words, don't hold back just because you don't want the other person to "feel bad."
If you love each other, hold each other up in a moment of weakness, even if it's emotional weakness or a lifelong struggle that won't cease just because of your love. Comfort the other even if it seems ineffective.
If you love each other, take care of each other. Not because you will be taken care of in return but because your own contentment relies on the other person's well-being.
If you love each other, be willing to sacrifice anything and everything.
I did not say "sacrifice anything and everything."
Be willing.
Not willful.
WILLING.