Monday, March 10, 2014

Help, I'm Alive: Thoughts on the Bigger Picture.

Today as I woke I settled lazily into my thoughts, as I do every day, categorizing in my head all the things that must be done and the words that must be said--yes, I deliberately choose to have conversations, it's true. And I say I did it lazily because I had not yet remembered yesterday's thoughts, yesterday's troubles, yesterday's words.

Today, before I remembered yesterday, I checked the weather (a lovely 49 degrees)and I listened to my husband gathering his dirty work clothes and grumbling at their smell. I made myself a cup of tea, washed my face, pondered how soon I'd be ready to start that scrapbooking project, I answered an e-mail from a coworker, and turned on my latest playlist. 

And then I remembered yesterday, and yesterday's thoughts, troubles, and words. They were nothing like today.

Today, the "trending" things on Facebook include iOS 7.1, the upcoming new season of '24', the Sbarro sandwich company filing for their second bankruptcy in three years, and a whole slew of celebrity rubbish. You know what isn't included on that scrolling tab of trends?

The fact that 33 Christians were ordered to be executed by North Korea's tyrant Kim Jong-Un because they helped start underground churches. (Kim Jong-Un Order Execution of 33 Christians.)

The fact that 239 people and one ginormous airplane are still lost somewhere in the world, and we don't know why. (Malaysia flight 370 Still a Complete Mystery.)

Those were yesterday's thoughts, and while I know many of my friends are thinking about these matters and praying about them, most of the world sees a news article, gives it 5 minutes of their brain-space, and then they move on to their lattes and their smartphones and their less-terrifying business. It's easier to stay inside the bubble of our own lives. It's safe there.

But the truth is that the world is a dark, hard-hearted place where people are killed for their beliefs and entire planes disappear without answers for those left behind. We live on a planet where one person can wake up and go out for espresso and banter about last night's premier of 'Cosmos' with his friends, and on the other side of the world somebody is waking up in a cold cell, waiting only for their death. And other people got on a plane in Malaysia on Saturday morning and didn't land in Beijing as expected.

 Brace yourself for this next group of thoughts.

I don't have a problem with those Christians facing death.
I don't have a problem with the missing plane and the missing people.

I don't have a problem, because my heart is absolutely broken about it, and that is all that God asks of me. It would be a problem for me if my heart wasn't broken. My real problem is that there isn't anything else I can do. All I can do is hold myself within that heartbreak, to acknowledge the depth of sadness in this situation, to pray for the families and friends of those who are lost. 

I have no choice but to go about my business as if nothing's wrong... because I have a life to live... and that life is here. It's not in North Korea, or Malaysia. 

Part of my current playlist is a song that I came across a few years ago. I'm sure there are other meanings you could glean from its lyrics but today, it's reminding me to just let myself feel sad. It's a reminder to allow yesterday's thoughts and troubles and words stay with me, to let those feelings stay with me, even if they don't keep me "safe" in my own life, even if others might think I should move on.

I've posted the acoustic version below. It doesn't have lyrics, but you can look them up if you want to. The song is "Help, I'm Alive" by Metric.

Don't be afraid to be empathetic. Sit in your feelings for a while... it's okay. Really.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

How About That!

Eons ago you might have seen or heard commercials for an offline dating program called "How About We." The company basically provides you with deals on dates and supposedly other people see those dates and want to join you. I've never tried the site for single people, but I have recently enjoyed the truly thrilling experience of How About We for Couples.

Here's the lowdown. It's awesome. But before I go into all the details of what you get for your money, let me show you some pictures of our latest date.

We went to two local cafes, both nestled into the gray iceberg of Wrigleyville. I got a photo of Wrigley Field but for some reason forget to snap a photo of the pizza place we went to: Dimo's.

There we shared a salad called "The Philosopher" and each got a monster-sized slice of pizza . On the left, Joey's chicken barbecue-ranch. On the right, my Philly cheesesteak. They were delicious. 

Let's get a better look at those, shall we?

And then we played The Game of Life, Simpsons edition! It was hilarious. I'm pretty sure I won.

We didn't get to finish the game because the parking meter was about to run out, and we had to rush back through one of those 6-way intersections. Plus, we had somewhere else to be!

Heritage Bicycles makes custom "vintage" bikes--bikes with pretentious names like "The Jane" and "The Chief." They also make coffee and delicious pastries, which are displayed on a bamboo cutting board and then served on tin rectangular trays. (Oooh, Aaaah) Joey got a hazelnut latte (see below), I got a chai tea latter (not pictured, because it looks oddly like a cup of milk and that's just lame.) We both got the walnut coffee cake, which was a little dry but still super tasty.

It's hard to explain how much I enjoyed our two dates without also telling you how ridiculous the whole atmosphere was. The walls were mosaic-ed with chalkboards and tandem bikes and huge medicine bottles full of mysterious liquids. There was an old typewriter sitting on the corner of the counter, which I can't criticize because it was beautiful. But still. They were basically shouting, "This is organic! I'm a hipster! Our barrista has dreadlocks!" 

The pizza place wasn't like that. They just had some really sassy wall art, an a can crusher on the wall which looked like the same one my grandparents used to have at their ranch. 

Still, it was an evening well spent. And would you like to know how much all of it cost us? 

The entire date itself (not including parking, which totaled $8) came to a whopping: $0.

That's right. Both of those dates were free. Because at HowAboutWe (for couples) you get one free date every month. Joey and I got 2 on this particular day because the original free date from February (which we scheduled in March)... it closed. What I mean is, the place we were supposed to go closed down. So we got a credit to our account (yay!) and 2 free dates. We decided to make a day of it and use them both at once.

You're probably saying, "oh, but it's a dating service, it's expensive," blahblahblah. But honestly, it isn't that much. It's $18 a month. (Your first month is always free, btw.) I can't go on a normal date for $18 let alone an awesome date to a new place with food I've never tried before. 

There are other perks as well. In addition to the free dates, you also get "member prices" for every date on their site. This includes concerts, stand-up comedy shows, fancy restaurants, dancing classes. There's also a "Rewards" section, which gives you coupon codes for discounted prices on things like moving vans or a clothing store or (my favorite) buy-one-get-one-free at Fandango. The Fandango reward is usually there every month, allowing Joey and I to both go to the movies for about $15 once we buy the popcorn. 

So I know this whole post seemed like a giant advertisement, but let me tell you, even if you only do it for your free month trial, it's totally worth it. And it's worth the $18, because it forces you to choose something to do with your spouse. Or fiance. Or boyfriend. Whatever. I think we live in this world where dating has little meaning and so you stay at home all the time. For me, it's nice to have a reason to go out and try new things. Maybe someday Joey and I will be old and wrinkly and we'll go to the same restaurant every week but for now it's nice to just sort of be adventurous.

It's nice to find something new together. :)

So go ahead and try it. Click HERE and you'll get $50 off your first date!!