And Now I Want Baked Beans and Hotdogs...

I know what you're thinking. Two posts in two days? INSANITY! I know, right? I'm trying something new and different. It's called writing on my blog. It's a revolutionary concept I expect will sweep the nation in four to six months. Or, you know, whatever.

Anyway, something funny happened yesterday and it got me to thinking about my favorite kid of blog posts. You know the kind, where someone says something weird/embarrassing/stupid about themselves and I instantly think, "You, too? I thought I was the only one who thought/felt/acted like that!" I love those kind of posts. I'm pretty sure they are the best part of the Internet.

Yesterday, Sister and I spent the majority of the day at my parent's house, partly because I'd had a crappy week and needed them and partly because they've been out of town for a while and I wanted to see them, but mostly because I was hungry and my mother offered me pancakes. I'm a simple girl with simple needs: air, water, shelter, pancakes (or any other carbs that come in somewhat circular forms). Not necessarily in that order.

At some point during the day, my dad made himself a snack of french bread and braunschweiger (if you click, please don't let the picture of the sandwich throw you off--whoever made that sandwich was an idiot who doesn't know how to make sandwiches). He's loved certain strange foods for many years, including this and pickled herring. As a child, I grew up eating braunschweiger because he liked it and I was very much a Daddy's Girl (a term which I've always hated the sound of, but I have no other way to describe it so we're going to have to pretend it isn't awkward, mmkay?) and I wanted to like what he liked and do what he did--except eat pickled herring; even I wasn't brave enough for that.  Parental hero worship might be an interesting blog post, but it's not this one. Just wait, I'm getting there.

It's probably a good thing he introduced it to me so early, because if I had come across it as an adult, I would have wrinkled my nose and never tried it. But I love it right alongside him. Again, a better blogger than me could spin that into a "LOOK! There's this thing I HATED as a kid and now I love it!" (or vice versa) kind of post. I am not that blogger.

So my dad finished his disgustingly delicious snack, which he was kind enough to share with me, and got up to go do something. And he got a massive charlie horse in the back of his thigh (sidenote: I have trouble when he gives me a pretend sad face, so seeing him in actual pain makes my chest physically hurt--it's a weird link I have with him, probably related to the whole Daddy's Girl [ick] thing).

And can we just take a(nother) break, for a quick question? Does everyone call them charlie horses or is that one of those weird regional colloquialisms that no one understands unless they grew up in a specific area? I thought it was a universal term, but I'm starting to doubt myself and I don't want to have a million wiki links peppered throughout this post (plus, it seems like a weird thing to link to), so if it IS one of those things and you don't know what I'm talking about, a charlie horse is a leg cramp that make your whole leg seize up and you have to find a way to either point your toe or flatten your foot and it's awful and no one likes them and, uh, charlie horse. That explanation got away from me. Moving on! And if you already knew and I was wrong and EVERYONE knows this information, I'm just going to move on in an embarrassed and slightly stealth-like manner.

I realize this may sound like I'm rambling (BECAUSE I AM), but this is all a (very detailed) set-up for a somewhat interesting point/question, I promise.

As soon as we got his leg to loosen up and got him set up on the couch, Mom and Sister told me a really ridiculous story about how, while I had run out to the grocery store after breakfast, my dad had gotten a charlie horse while stuck under the sink trying to fix a non-serious plumbing problem and the other semi-calamitous events surrounding the plumbing and charlie horsing and I had this CRAZY BRAINWAVE. In my mind, I have always had a memory linkage between braunschweiger and my father having a charlie horse. I cannot explain it or point to another time when he was eating it and got a charlie horse, but there is a DIRECT link in my brain.

When I mentioned this to my family, they kind of just blinked at me for a minute, so I followed it up with this: every time I go into the garage at my parents' house, I have to pee REALLY BADLY, whether I've done so recently or not. I don't know if it's because that's how we always came into the house as kids when we were playing outside and we needed to use the bathroom or what, but I am 25 and it still happens. Maybe it's the temperature difference? Anyway, they kind of got it then, I think. Or they were just nodding and smiling and thinking of where to hide the knives from the crazy person sitting on their couch.

But I have these connections with all kinds of things. Whenever I put on mascara, I think of the movie Sybil with Sally Field. This one I think I understand--I had to watch it in college for a screenwriting class and I underestimated how long it was going to be, so I was in a hurry to go somewhere near the end and spent the last fifteen minutes watching it through my bathroom mirror while I got ready to go.
And I know I just made up the rules to this...thing..., but I'm not even sure if this one qualifies: I will never NOT get the two names Gretchen and Bridgette mixed up in my head. Never.

BUT! Hot dogs and baked beans with new potatoes will ALWAYS make me think of that old show Night Court (Mom and Sister agreed with this one, actually), because that was almost always the meal Dad made for us kids on Saturday nights when Mom worked the night shift and we would eat it while watching that show. To this day, the smell of baked beans cooking occasionally makes me hum the Night Court theme song (Watching to that just made me SO HAPPY, you have no idea. Oh, the bad hair! And John Larroquette! BULL! Man, I miss that show).

There are a million other little things like this for me. And despite my family's initial reaction, I CANNOT be the only one. What strange, inexplicable, or ridiculous linkages to you have trapped inside of your brain? And if you don't have any, could you please make some up while you think of places to hide your knives from me?


And the Crickets Keep Chirping...

I didn't mention it here, mainly because I haven't been mentioning much of anything at all for the last several months, but I participated in NaNoWriMo again this year. Some of you might remember last year, when I attempted to write my first novel in 30 days while also posting here every day. And even thought I accomplished both, I think it broke me. My posting had not been regular here since.

Anyway, I did NaNoWriMo again this year. Everything was going well for the first week and a half--I was even consistently ahead in my word count by a full day or more. I was thinking of upping my goal from the baseline 50,000 and trying for 75K or even a 100K (when I'm feeling optimistic, I get a little ahead of myself). Then I got SLAMMED with insomnia. For over a week, I tossed and turned until 3:00 am. I could barely function during the daylight hours, which BY THE WAY are incredibly short at this time of year. I was also volunteering pretty heavily at my church and caught a couple babysitting gigs, so my novel sat on the back burner. Then there was turkey day and family time and what it all comes down to is that I had 25,000 words left to write in five days.

That's HALF of the goal. But for some reason, my brain shielded me from that concept and I just jumped back into writing it. I thought, I'll just have to do 5,000 words a day. That's not THAT hard. Ha. Haha. But, as my last post informed you, I've had a rough year and it only seems to be getting rougher. So I desperately needed a win. Or, more accurately, I wasn't sure I could handle another failure. 

Ignoring all the stats, I put fingers to keys and just took off for five days. Yesterday night, I managed to write 9,916 words to finish NaNoWriMo with an hour to spare! AND I figured out how to verify it, which means that I'm an official winner. Unlike last year when I really did finish, but didn't know I had to verify it so it looks like I just logged on every day to type in progressively higher numbers until I hit 50,000. So I'm a two-time finisher, only a one-time winner. And I'm trying not to be bitter about it.

The story is only about halfway done, which is fine, because the type of book I want to write is between 300-350 pages. 50,000 words is a little over halfway there. So I still have some work to do. But, again unlike last year, I actually LIKE this story and it's going well. I'm not sure it's worth publishing or letting anyone read, but it's worth it to me to finish it--if only because I've never finished a story and I'd really like to. And while the win doesn't feel ALL that winnish (it was all a little anticlimactic what with the story not being finished), I know I would feel terrible today if I had given up, so I keep focusing on that.

The only difficult part of the whole thing (you know, other than needing push out 25,000 words in five days) was that the topic is incredibly sad and is somewhat personally relevant, since I took a real life thing and asked the question "What's the worst that could happen?" Since November was such a rough month for many other reasons, I tried to bury myself in the novel. But it often just felt like trading one kind of sad for another. And that was incredibly hard on me. It wore me out and it pulled me down. But I really think that the characters are more believable and relateable because of it. I hope.

Anyway, some of you have requested to be beta readers. I am so worried about sharing my work, but I also am kind of excited to get some feed back from people who aren't related to me and therefore are practically required to be nice about my creativity. So. If you are interested in reading an unedited first draft of half a romantic/family drama with Christian values, speak up now. Why am I hearing crickets? There are no crickets in Far North.


For All the Lost and Lonely

I am so lost right now, you guys. Life is really hard and I can't seem to write about anything other than my sorrows. But as I wrote this today, unsure of whether I would post it or just use it as a cathartic mind-dump and delete it, I found something interesting. I may be lost in the woods, but I can't possibly be the only one out here. With the economy the way it's been for the last several years and life being the grab bag of shits and giggles that it can be, a lot of us are a little lost these days. So I'm going to share where I'm at. Partly as catharsis and partly to tell you you're not alone, either. I'm not so full of myself to pretend I have any kind of solution, which you will see clearly as you read about the train wreck that is my life recently, but maybe you and I can find some hope together.

I spend a lot of my time actively not thinking about where my life is right now. It's nowhere near where I want it to be, but over the last year, I have managed to strengthen my denial muscle. I blithely move throughout my days, doing little projects, volunteering at church, picking up odd jobs here and there, pretending I'm not standing on a razor thin wire of hope that's growing more and more tenuous each day. There are the days that I forget to hold the denial muscle tight (like when I glance at my bank account) and I get a little bit sucker punched by the weight of all that I am not doing or cannot change. There is a physical pain in my stomach and a weight pressing on my chest that often takes my breath away with how suddenly it hits. But I take a few deep breaths and pull the muscle taut again. I just keep moving, keep putting one foot in front of the other. Because what other choice do I have?

But then there are days, days like today, when something happens and the denial muscle snaps and sprains and hangs limp. When I get an early morning phone call telling me that I ONCE AGAIN did not get a job. A job I interviewed for less than twenty-four hours before. An interview that used up four hours of my life, 90 miles' worth of gas, and an hour and a half's worth of patience while I waited around for a second interview that never happened. On those days, everything comes into stark focus and my denial muscle is useless from the effort of holding it all at bay. On those days, I get up in the morning and I make my coffee and I sit on the couch and I just cry.

Major areas of my life are in shambles. I know that sounds like hyperbole, but they all feel pretty broken to me. The biggest and most pressing is the job issue. It has been 422 days since I have worked. Four hundred and twenty-two. (That's longer than it takes to gestate a human baby. Or a horse. But less than an elephant. So, you know, hope...?) I've taken a temp job here and there, I've done two stints as a week-long overnight nanny, and I've house-sat for almost everyone in my church. But I have not held a real nine-to-five-here's-a-paycheck-every-two-weeks-and-also-some-benefits-so-you-don't-die-of-scurvy kind of job in 13 months. And my bank account grows sadly smaller every day.

I have no idea how I'm going to do Christmas this year. I am blessed to have a family that doesn't care about gifts, but it makes me feel so...small...that I can't participate in the simplest things. When we go out to lunch as a family, my father pays the bill with his credit card and everyone hands over cash for their portion. Except for me, because I can't. My parents recently bought themselves a new car and gave me my mother's old one. To replace the one I had been driving, which was my fathers old car. And I can't even afford the insurance on either of these borrowed cars, so they pay that, too. I haven't paid rent to Sister since August. But my family doesn't blink, they just give. They know I'll settle up when things get better. But things aren't getting better. 422 days, you guys.

Another thing that pulls me down and discourages me is my weight. I am heavier than I have ever been in my whole life. I have gained back all of the weight I worked so hard to lose in college. And then some. And then some more. I don't fit into most of my clothes, but I can't really afford to replace them, even if I had the emotional fortitude to go try things on right now. I see new stretch marks in the mirror every day and my ass is the size of Montana. My double ass.

And I KNOW, alright? I know that I have complete control over how much I weigh. I know the simple formula of calories in minus more calories out equals weight-loss. And I have PLENTY OF TIME to exercise, what with the not working ever. That knowledge just makes everything harder, because (and this is going to sound like the giant excuse that it is) I am just so demoralized. I have absolutely no motivation. You'd think the above paragraph would be enough to spur me into activity (and it is, on occasion, for about three days). But it's cold and dark here and food makes me happy. On days when I'm not sure that things are ever going to turn around for me, it's one of the only things that does.

And this leads me directly to the another GIANT VACUUM OF LACK: love, marriage, and children. Because who wants to marry a sad, unemployed, stretch-marked loser who sits on her couch all day? No one, as my experience has taught me. As much as it pains me to admit this, I KNOW I'm not in any frame of mind to be someone's partner, to enter into a deep and meaningful relationship right now. That's probably the hardest part--I am aware of how defeated I have become and I HATE it (see the previous word vomit paragraphs). Obviously, I'm not in the most positive headspace right now. And while there may be men out there who can look beyond a woman's physical appearance to see her inner beauty (which I also feel like I'm lacking), I am pretty sure I'm not going to be turning any heads in my current physical state.

Part of me (the pragmatic, logical part of me) is okay with that, because this is NOT who I want to be in a relationship. But when I get to thinking on a broader scale of where I want my life to be, the thing that comes to the forefront each and every time is that I want to be a wife and mother. I don't want to be an accountant; I don't want to be a graphic designer; I don't want to run for office or fly to the moon. I just want to be someone's wife and someone's mom. I'm not opposed to working (seriously, COME ON, I have been searching for a job for over a year) and I'm not opposed to being a working mom if that's what I need to do. But I was MADE to be a mom. I can feel it in my bones, every time I play with my godkids or hear a funny story about my niece or nephew. The weeks of nannying, while difficult for many reasons, felt like I'd scored an exclusive internships for the top job in my field.

So when I look at my life, I feel a little hopeless. I feel like I can't gain any traction on my weight-loss until I get a job that will take me out of this house and away from the ever-present pantry. And I can't even begin to contemplate putting myself out there romantically until I feel a little bit better about my body. And I can't seem to find a job to save my life. Are you sensing a Cycle of Apathy and Self-Loathing? Yeah, me, too. I feel trapped in limbo and something has got to give soon.

Don't get me wrong. I have SO MANY good things in my life. Compared to some of the stories I read on the internet and things I see on the news, I have it SO GOOD. I have a warm home (despite being unable to pay rent) that has not been damaged by a hurricane or is otherwise unsafe for me to live in. I never have to deal with the exhaustion that comes from dysfunctional family drama or the heartache of loving someone with a chronic or terminal illness (for the most part--we recently discovered that my mother's brain tumor is back, but it's not nearly as terrifying as it sounds and I'll get to that in another post). I, myself, am not suffering from any debilitating health problems; I don't live in chronic pain. And, as much as I want to be a mom, I'm thankful I don't have children that are going hungry because of my financial situation. I am young and healthy and blessed and I will bounce back from this. Eventually.

So I try to focus on those things. I truly do. But on days like this, I can't help but think that those good things don't make the bad things any less bad. It doesn't matter how much worse off someone else is. This sucks! My life is HARD right now, even if it's not as difficult as it could be.

If there's one thing I've learned in this past year, it's that perspective can be a cold comfort. Lots of people want to give me advice right now and, as well-meaning as it can be, it drives me crazy when they tell me it could be worse. Because the comparison game is a two-edged sword. It reveals our blessings, which can be useful for finding our footing in the chaos. But it also serves to artificially downplay our own pain. Which is completely unfair. Because it IS painful. And it's OUR pain, not someone else's. It's happening to US and it's happening RIGHT NOW and it should be okay to say that it HURTS.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that there IS a silver lining to this terribly stormy cloud, even if it's hard to see when you're stuck in the rain or feel like you're trapped inside the vapor. And it's NOT perspective, which you probably have plenty of already, and it's not all of the blessings in your life, which I know you're aware of (how could you not be, when they may be all you have left to hold on to?). It's that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. And it's okay to say it hurts.

So please, if you're feeling as lost as I am, talk to me. Tell me how hard it's been. Scream and rant and rave in my comment section. I'm hurting, too, and together we might be able to find some light in this darkness. It will get better. I've been told again and again that it will. And I believe it. Most days. But on days like to day, I just need to say that it hurts. And maybe you do, too.


A Break Through and also Very Late CDP Ideas

I haven't been blogging much lately. And I couldn't quite find the words that would make it clear what had changed and why. And then, as she often does, Temerity Jane posted something that is everything I've wanted to say, but with better phrases and also funnier. So go read this post, change the names and the circumstances only slightly and you've got a decent approximation of where I've been for much of this year. And I guess the only solution is to power through. And since I USED to like this blog and got quite a bit of joy from it, I want a solution. So I'm here, powering through. Sort of.

Anyway, remember that I told you that I signed up for the Crappy Day Present Exchange and I was going to write a post about some of the things I like so that whoever was unlucky enough to have pulled my name has some ideas for my CDP box? And that I made that promise as part of a post entitled "Follow Through: A Mile Stone" and yet (not so ironically) did not actually follow through on that promise? Yeah, me neither.

Anyway, this is SOOOO late in coming as to be supremely unhelpful, but I'm hoping that whoever drew my name is a procrastinator like me and is just now getting around to looking for ideas for CDPs. So. Without further excuse-making-ado, here are several things someone somewhere might like to know about me, in absolutely no sensical order and with no rationally explainable exclusivity.

1. I like coffee and coffee-flavored things.
2. I am also a tea drinker, because NO IT IS NOT AN EITHER OR SITUATION.
3. If I had five dollars to spend on something frivolous, I would probably buy chocolate or a cheap paperback.
4. I have pierced ears and I like dangly (but not chunky) earrings. I wear the same simple chain necklace with a cross charm everyday, but I wouldn't mind a change. I like bracelets, but find them kind of annoying when I actually remember to wear them.
5. I have a thing for pretty notecards, sticky notes, and other stationary-like items, even though I rarely use them. So I guess I'm a stationary collector?
6. While I like the look of pretty pastels and dainty, feminine prints, I usually gravitate more toward rainbow colors or jewel tones and bold, abstract patterns.
7. I have long hair and I love headbands and clips, even though I most often just throw it in a ponytail.
8. I love to cook and bake, especially bread, and I'm always looking for new recipes.
9. I do not like toffee, peanut brittle, or fake peanut butter flavor. But I love salted caramel, real peanut butter, and fruit flavors in chocolate.
10. I'm not really into knickknacks or clutter, so most of my surfaces are covered in books, candles, and picture frames. As far as candles are concerned, I stay away from the floral scents and the "baked food" types. I like more earthy (plant-based, but not really flowers) or beachy aromas (clean breezey things), if that makes any sense.
11. I listen to country music more than any other kind, but I'm not really that picky when it comes to genre. My iPod looks kind of schizophrenic. And I'm always curious about what other people love to listen to.
12. The only space in the house that is mine (to decorate, not like I don't USE the other parts of the house) is my bedroom and it's done in purples (like my gorgeous couch) and silvers/grays.
13. Fall is my favorite season, both because of the colors and the scents in the air.
14. I'm a wimp when it comes to spicy foods.

Okay, fourteen is a pretty stupid number to end on, but that's all I've got and if I start to over think this, I will never post it and I'M POWERING THROUGH. I apologize to the person who pulled my name and wish you better luck the next time around. ;)


Follow Through: A Mile Stone

As you can see (if you're not reading this in a reader), I have completed my blog "redesign." Which sounds a lot more professional than, "I clicked a new Blogger template, picked a font, and made everything varying shades of red and black." Which is exactly what I did. Anyway, let me know if there's something you don't like or something that's not working.

And then hold on tight, because I might just blog sometime this month... I know, slow down, right?

OH! I joined Doing My Best's Crappy Day Present Exchange, so I'll need to post a "getting to know me" for whoever drew my name. I'll try to get to that tomorrow, before it's too late to be helpful. And then I'll get on to shopping for MY person--I'm excited to get to know this person a little better.

So. Let me know if anything is funky. And stick around just a little bit longer--I promise I'm on my way back.


Making Fresh Bagels

I'm thinking of doing a blog redesign. On one hand, it seems kind of silly to me, since I'm barely writing here these days and if there are no new words, what does it matter what format they're displayed in? But on the other hand, I'm just feeling like the pink and green and flowers and all of this... It just seems a little too cutesy to me. I'm really more about bold primary colors and abstract shapes kind of person than a pastels and flowers girl. I don't know if it's even worth it, but these (things that are not) bagels seem to be a little stale and maybe we'd all like some fresh ones?

So I'm asking for your help. If you read this in a reader, if probably won't matter to you. But if you come to the site, what would you like to see? Is there anything annoying about the blog right now? You know, aside from my obnoxious experimentation with the English language and, uh, the content. Does the font drive you crazy? Is Disqus awful? Do you care about knowing which blogs I read? That kind of thing.

Maybe I'm just tying to trick myself into thinking the blog is NEW and SHINY again so I'll post more. I don't know. But if you have experience with design or have opinions about other people's blogs, let me know what you think.

And while we're here, talking about the nuts and bolts of blogging, why DON'T we talk about content? Is there anything you want to hear more about? Are there things I've done in the past that you'd like to see more of? Have I promised to tell you a story that I never actually told (I make  a lot of promises)? Because I'm ALWAYS looking for things to write about. I mean, mostly I blog for me and I'm excited when people read. But, obviously, I also blog for an audience or I would be writing in a journal on my purple couch all alone.

So. Let me know. Or don't. I mean, I don't want to pressure you or anything. But. Yeah. Help?


This Whole Post Is Weird

It's been about two weeks since I wrote my last post, in which I promised to "get much more bloggy up in here." Which, A) did I actually say that? What am I, a blogging gangster? and B) who am I kidding? I can't keep my life together enough to make promises like that. But here are a few things that have happened since my last post:

1.     I got hired on as a temporary secretary at my church for two weeks while the real secretary is out of town. And I mostly just say, "Uh, I dunno. She'll be back on the twenty-first..." Well, that AND I'm doing a lot of graphic design stuff, which is so much fun and I think I may have missed my calling. If graphic designers all use Microsoft Publisher and "borrow" images from google. So, no? [A rant about Microsoft Publisher was here, but has been redacted because who the heck cares about my software preferences and also who the heck still uses Publisher?] So, YAY INCOME! For a little while, anyway.

2.     I had a second interview for a job I was very excited about. SPOILER ALERT (because of course there's another shoe needing to drop here): I was my usual Chronically Honest self and, when asked if I saw this as a long-term opportunity, I spewed my Texas plans and my new hippie "I'm going where ever life takes me" philosophy and told them I couldn't guarantee more than a year, although I wanted to stay longer than that. If you're really clueless about how the world works, skip down a little to find out how this ends.

3.     I realized I've forgotten how to be a productive member of society. That was a nice little wake-up call.

4.     My goddaughter was born! She's beautiful and healthy and wonderful and I'm so excited to get to watch her grow. Until I move to Texas. But we're not talking about that today. [A bitter rant about how some women have conceived, gestated, and given birth to whole children in the time I've been unemployed was here, but was also redacted because OOOOH PRETTY BABIES!!!]

5.     I started carrying a concealed handgun. And before you put on your judgey pants or gasp and clutch your pearls, let me explain:
  • It is legal for me to do so where I live;
  • I have had training on the safe and effective use of handguns;
  • My church has recently received some threats and I spend a significant portion of my day alone in the unlocked building (by nature, the church needs to be unlocked). While the danger is probably not very high (the police are involved, nothing new has happened in about three weeks), the threatener is mentally unstable and I'd rather not tango with him unarmed;
  • It is concealed so as not to cause a panic or instill fear in the normal church people;
  • I have permission of the pastors and elders who run the church;
  • I am not the only one in this building armed at any given time on any given day;
  • I will not use it unless is it ABSOLUTELY necessary, which is a highly unlikely event. But that's why you carry a gun: to be prepared for that highly unlikely event.
ANYWAY. The reason I bring it up is that this is new and slightly weird. And, while I've always supported the CONCEPT of responsible handgun use, I didn't realize how much it would affect me to carry one. I am suddenly HYPER-AWARE of the deadliness and the social implications of having one on my person or around my house. I have also spent significant time thinking about dangerous scenarios and how I would react (both legally and morally). And then there are the SILLY things. Practical things like how this chunk of metal affects my balance, which clothes I wear, and how I maneuver throughout my day to keep it concealed. I guess what I'm saying is that this is so much more REAL than I thought it would be. Which, duh, of course it is. It's a huge responsibility and you shouldn't take it on without taking into account ALL of the variables and risks, which I believe I have done. What I'm saying is, it's no longer an abstract, cut-and-dry issue to me any more.

And, listen, I'm not really looking to have a politically charged gun discussion, but I DID bring it up, so if you MUST, give it a go. We can get ALL DISCUSSY in the comments, which isn't something that's ever happened here. Not that I'm mentioning this to BE DISCUSSY. Whatever. The bag is empty, the cat's gone, let's do this thing.

6.     I didn't get that job (cue everyone's SURPRISED FACE). And I know I said that if I didn't get it, I'd start looking in Texas and it would be the Lord's way of showing me His path. And I still completely believe that. But. Can I just say how incredibly discouraged and worthless I feel right now, just mere hours after I got the rejection call?

It's been 11 months of unemployment. It's been multiple failed interviews (I count them as failed if I didn't get the job, which is very glass-half-empty-of-me, but there it is). It's been 14 months of looking for a job. It's been THREE YEARS of work-related headaches, heartaches, and walletaches. And it's moments like these that make me ask the ridiculous and self-pitying question: Why doesn't anyone want me?

Tomorrow, I'll start again. Tomorrow, I'll turn my eyes toward Texas. Tomorrow, I will remember the Lord's promise. Today, I just want to look at Him and ask "Why?" and "How much longer?" and take comfort in the fact that He's a big enough God to handle my questions and doubts.

7.     There really isn't a seven, so go ahead and jump in with your comments now. Just know that if you're mean to me about #5, I might cry extra hard because of #6.


Bagels, Beans, Babies, and Beginnings

As you may have noticed, I've been a wee bit absent from the blog in recent months. Now, I could go the whole tongue-in-cheek-I-don't-owe-you-anything-you-are-lucky-to-have-me-whenever-I-am-here route. Or I could go the apologize-apologize-something-self-deprecating-apologize-excuses route. OR I could just get straight to it. For the first time in a VERY long time, I have many, many things to tell you guys, so Option Three it is!

If you follow me on twitter, you might know that I took a trip recently. To Texas! That's right, the Far Northerner took a ten day jaunt into TEXAS in the middle of JULY! Because I don't understand how climate and the SUN work or something.

No, actually, @LEBean (Linnea of Bean on Parade) and her husband @MikeOQuinn invited me to come stay with them for the weekend. You see, Linnea has this amazing story about how she started a Bible study with some girls in college and now (twelve years, a mass move to Texas, marriages, babies later) they are all still doing Bible study together. It's her story to tell, not mine, but suffice it to say that it made me well up just a little about how AWESOME God's plan for us truly is. So, anyway, her Bible study ladies and their husbands were having a mini-retreat and she invited me to come. And then I told twitter I was visiting Texas and apparently HALF of twitter lives within driving distance of Dallas-Fort Worth. So we determined that I needed to stay an extra weekend so that we could also have Jeans @ Beans, the one-day-in-Texas equivalent of PJs@TJ's.

Personally, I prefer to call this trip Bagels @ Beans, since Linnea calls me Bagels (because I have a real name and a blog name AND a twitter handle and it's all kind of a lot to remember). And also because there were MANY bagels eaten while I was there. You see, Linnea was very sneaky and DMed Sister on twitter to find out my coffee and food preferences and then supplied me with my favorites, including, you guessed it, bagels. This alone would have made the trip AWESOME, but there was SO! MUCH! MORE!

First of all: Eleanor. We are all kidding ourselves if we think I went to Texas for Bible studies or blogger reunions or food or to meet a cowboy, although those were also reasons on my list. No, the MAIN reason I went to Texas was to meet The Squnchler. Now, many of you have met babies or even have babies of your own, so it may seem like I'm exaggerating when I talk about how INCREDIBLE Eleanor is. I know, we all think our babies or our relatives' babies or our friends' babies are the best (trust me, I have been through this, too), but Eleanor has to be in the TOP FIVE BEST BABIES OF ALL TIME. I would say she was the best hands down, but I have a Niece and a Godson and OH YEAH A BRAND NEW NEPHEW WHO WAS BORN WHILE I WAS A BEAN'S HOUSE (who I will tell you all about in a different post)! So, you know, Top Five and I will not tell you where they all rank because that's just a little too weird even for me.

Anyway, Eleanor is awesome. I swear I could see the gears moving in her head as she LEARNED! THINGS! right in front of me. And she's beautiful. SOOOOO BEAUTIFUL. And such a sweet, happy, loving baby who smiles for every one and just generally makes the world a better place by BEING. And I think that should be everyone's goal in life: make the world better just by being. So really, she's already got life DOWN. And that's pretty incredible in my book.

Now, this is where I went on for several paragraphs doing the play-by-play of my trip with all of the "and then we did this"es and "on this day, we went here"s. But then I realized that that kind of narative is probably only interesting to me and maybe to Linnea and since we were both THERE, it seems a little silly. So deleted it (and gave you... an apparently LONGER VERSION OH WELL) and I'm just going to try to hit the high points.

I spent a lot time just staring at Eleanor/holding Eleanor/playing with Eleanor/putting Eleanor to sleep. The rest of the time (and also often during all of the Eleanoring), I talked non-stop to Linnea. Who was very gracious, even when I talked for what seemed like hours straight (I do this A LOT and would like to, you know, EASE UP, but since this post is already THIS LONG and I'm just starting to get to my point), I think we all know that there's not much hope for me).

They fed me excellent food, including but not limited to Tex-Mex, Chili's (since all of the Chili's in Far North except for the Chili's Too in the airport have CLOSED DOWN BECAUSE SOMEONE DIDN'T MANAGE THEIR MONEY WELL AND WHERE THE HECK AM I GOING TO EAT NOW?!), Sonic, tasty homemade Mustard Chicken, two different kinds of "Three Minute Cobbler," Butternut Squash Ravioli and BAGELS. Oh, and the bread that I taught Linnea how to make. This is by no means an exhaustive list, because I can't remember all the things we ate, but it was all good and I did not by any means starve while I was there. 

The first weekend, we went to Linnea's parents' house for the mini-retreat. We swam in the salt-water pool (and I DIDN'T get sunburned, which is probably the first time in my life sunscreen has worked out for me) and drank margaritas and ate great burgers and had an awesome time of fellowship. I was truly blessed by how easily the group included me and how the women were willing to sit in the hot tub with me while I peppered them with questions about how they met their husbands (in the hope of perhaps institution the same measures myself). We all spent the night and enjoyed a relaxing Sunday talking and laughing while I took turns holding and eventually rocking to sleep all three babies. Because that is my talent in life: putting babies (and probably some adults) to sleep.

Later in the week, the actual Bible Study took place at Linnea's house and the ladies once again treated me like I had always been a part of their group. I'm always so blessed and unnecessarily amazed by the unique common ground that believers share and how easy it is to talk to other believers, regardless of how long we've known each other or where we are in life. I loved LOVED LOVED this time of fellowship and honest conversation.

Throughout the week, I also got to meet many of Linnea's friends from Faire (she and her husband met while participating in their local Renaissance Faire, which is particularly cool in my book), who also welcomed me like I had always been there. This is where I began to wonder: does Linnea have a special talent for finding the most awesome people ever or are Texans in general this amazing? I think I know Linnea's answer, but many of the Texas bloggers might have a different answer. Either way, I love it!

We also went to go see the new Disney-Pixar movie Brave. In 3D. In a dinner theater. I have never a) been to a movie in 3D and b) been to a dinner theater, and c) seen Brave (this one's kind of a no-brainer, but it fit, so whatever). ALL OF THIS WAS WONDERFUL! I think the short at the start of the movie was my favorite part, which is saying something, since I LOVED the movie. I won't say any more, for those who haven't seen it, but I highly recommend it. All of it.

Then there was Jeans @ Beans! In the grand tradition of TJ, there was a Snack Wall. If you don't know about the Snack Wall, well, I feel sorry for you. Go out and buy yourself one of those over-the-door vinyl shoe organizer thingies (the ones with the individual shoe pockets), hang it over your pantry door in your kitchen, and fill each pocket with candy and snacks and goodies. Voila! SNACK WALL. Your mind is kind of blown right now, I can tell. This is the second best invention to come out of the mind of Temerity Jane (the first being the Living Room Bed, of course).

And while the Snack Wall is a thing of wonder, the BEST part of Jeans @ Beans was KAMMAH! And MEGAN! And THE OTHER MEGAN (who is also known as BEYLIT)! And TARA and ERIANA! And JULIE! It was perfectly size gathering to keep the conversation flowing without being overwhelming or missing anything. It was fun and chaotic and not nearly long enough. We had candy and babies and Linnea's husband in a kilt (he performs Irish dance and has an Irish Folk band, so it's as out-of-the-blue as it might sound). And the whole day was like having the Internet in Linnea's living room. I'm certain this is not the last time I will see most of these ladies, since hosting the Internet in your living room is becoming the THING for a lot of us (a THING that I love and didn't even know how much I wanted/needed in my life) and I'm pretty sure both PJs@TJ's and Jeans @ Beans will happen again in the future.

So! FIFTEEN HUNDRED words later: I'm sure I've forgotten all kinds of things and I could write at least 1500 more words on Eleanor alone, but I have to stop somewhere. It was an excellent trip and an amazing experience. I enjoyed the people and even the climate (109's a little hot for me, but I think I adapted pretty well). And I'm just going to dump a small secret here for those of you who stuck with it and read this far: I've been praying and agonizing and pro-and-conning and researching and talking with my family and... I'm pretty sure that the Lord asking me to move to Texas. [That noise you just heard? That was Kammah's head exploding.]

Nothing is official yet and there are still many many MANY things that need to align for me to actually make the move, but I truly believe that God is leading me toward Texas. So I'm about to begin the process of looking for a job in the DFW area and seeing which doors God opens for me. If you are of the praying persuasion, please pray for me as I make this incredibly difficult and exhilarating decision. And keep checking back here--I plan to get much more bloggy up in here now that things are actually happening in my life again.


Funny. I promise.

Several years ago, I had this job. An assistant-y type job, where I did pretty much whatever my boss wanted me to do and didn't ask a lot of questions. One of my tasks was to look through the local obituaries and write condolence letters to anyone that my boss knew or to whom she was connected in some way (she was both prominent in the community and old, leading to A LOT of these letters). One day, I read an obituary that made me laugh out loud.

And then I sent Sister a long e-mail detailing what exactly was so funny about this man and his obituary.

I know, I know. I'm a terrible person. And since that's already true, I might as well go all the way to hell and write a post based on that e-mail and post it here where EVERYBODY can read it. And before you click away, I am not going to laugh at the WAY he died or get gory at all. I may be going to hell, but I'm not that awful.

FROM: Elise
TO: Sister
SUBJECT: Funny. I promise.

You're having a bad day and I promised you funny, so here goes:

I have to look at all the local obituaries and gather the addresses of family members for condolences. This is not funny. But just wait, I'll get there.

One of the men who died this week was Robert "Bob" Smith.*  He was 85 and he passed peacefully. This is not particularly funny, either.

His wife's name was Elizabeth, but he called her Bunny. Funnier.

Actually, he seems to have called her "his Bunny." Like, "My Bunny, can you get me some more coffee?" or "Hi, My Bunny, how was your day with our 11 children?" See, the funny is starting to grow on you, right?

He had three sons. Pretty average. Not too funny.

They were named Robert, Jerry, and Clyde. Clyde's kind of funny. But only a little.

One of his sons goes by Bob. Also average; also not funny.

Except that it's his second son Jerry, not Robert, who goes by Bob. Funny.

He also had eight daughters. (See! I totally wasn't kidding with the 11 children thing up there) I'm guessing he didn't find that too funny when he paid for their weddings. I would, though. Lots of money is lots of funny.

His oldest daughter's name is Shereen. Maybe not funny, but weird. 

Until you meet her sisters: Laureen, Tareen, Joireen, Kathereen, Mareen, and Janeen. Now we've arrived at the funny.

Now, you're probably thinking, "Hey, that's only seven!" And you would be right, you great counter, you. Joining Shereen, Laureen, Tareen, Joireen, Kathereen, Mareen, and Janeen is the baby sister:  Carol. Poor Carol. FUNNY!

(We could also take a second here to be a little bit sorry for Janeen, who missed out on the R that her other sisters got, including Carol. But I'm giggling too much to be that sorry.)

PLUS? Carol and Clyde were listed together. Last. Named with the same letter. I'd like to think they were twins. That would be funny. And twins as your tenth pregnancy?  Even funnier. For everyone who is NOT Bunny, that is.

So, Mr. Robert "Bob" Smith. You had a long life. You did amazing things. You raised a (presumably) good family, albeit with odd monikers. And, you made a weary employee's day a little brighter. So thanks. God bless you. And God bless Bunny, Robert, Jerry "Bob", the 'Reens, and Carol & Clyde. Oh, and Janeen, who isn't actually a 'Reen.

Funny. I promised.


*I changed the last name to make this less google-able, but I swear the rest of the names are real. If you want to verify, e-mail me and I'll send you the link to the obituary. The reason I'm  not linking it here is that it will give away my location, which is a closely-guarded secret. Also, you you happen to know this man or his family, I apologize for any offense, given or taken. Please e-mail me and tell me everything you know about these people, because I think I would really like them!


Inane Grammar Rants with Elise: TRYING My Patience

It should surprise no one that I am somewhat of a grammarian. Is my own grammar perfect? Not even remotely. But I do understand the difference between a possessive, a plural, and a contraction ("Elise's grammar is not perfect," "Many Elises worry about grammar," and "Elise's a grammarian."). I know, and am avidly conscious, about split infinitives even though most people don't even think this is a rule any more. I try to use commas appropriately, but I am known to overuse them from time to time. I also don't really care if I end a sentence in a preposition, but I DO understand why it's a rule and that there is much debate on the subject. And I freely admit that I haven't the slightest clue why certain words get capitalized in titles and others don't, so I often just capitalize them ALL, which is not really a solution and I should just learn this.

With this said, I ALSO try not to be a snob about it. There are times I avoid Facebook simply because I CANNOT stand the lack of capitalization and punctuation (along with the plethora of inappropriate abbreviations; I'm looking at U, U-users), but I don't correct people either.

This is a rambly introduction. Sorry about that. What I'm trying to say is that I NOTICE bad grammar and GRATES. But I try to just go with the flow and ignore it, because who wants to be this guy? But every once in a while, I will point out poor grammar to a third-party. And it usually bites me in the ass. [GASP! She just SWORE! On the blog where she PROMISED not to swear! She must be tired of living up to her own expectations! Or maybe she just thought it was funnier than "bites me on the booty." Because maybe she doesn't want to sound like she's talking to toddlers? Hmmm...]

In light of the previous three (useless) paragraphs, let me tell you a story. When I was in high school, this song was popular:

Green Day - Brain Stew/Jaded:

I'm sure many of you remember it. In case you're wondering, I'm not exactly ADVOCATING this song, as the rest of this post will surely make clear. I'm just saying it was POPULAR and lots of people probably know it. You don't even need to watch the video to understand my point. In fact, save yourselves the agony, because my point involves ONLY the first line of this song. It goes a little something like this:

BUHdum BUHdum BUHdum BUHdumBUHdumBUHdum [What? It's not easy turning sounds into text!] BUHdum BUHdum BUHdumBUHdumBUHdum "I'm having trouble trying to sleep..."

Maybe you're not seeing where I'm about to go. Maybe you are and that means that you are my PEOPLE. But probably, this is just something that got warped inside of my head and no one else can see why. But this song bugs the ever-loving DAYLIGHTS out of me.

Having Trouble Trying to Sleep: A Grammar Rant by Elise Seaton

It was 2002. I'd recently had an English assignment in which I had to choose a popular song and analyze the lyrics, much like one would dissect a poem. I'd heard Brain Stew a few times, but I'd never really given it much thought before. One day, it came on the radio and my Dissector started pinging. I made an idle comment to my brother (who was driving the car that held the radio that was playing this infernal song) that it's pretty much impossible to HAVE TROUBLE TRYING something.

And thus, a decade-long, entire-family-versus-just-me disagreement began.

Think about it, though. You can have trouble sleeping. That's reasonable. You lie down in bed [FULL DISCLOSURE: I just had to look up the correct use of lie/lay bacuse that one is still tricky for me], you close your eyes, and you count sheep only to find that you are STILL AWAKE, despite your best efforts. I have been there. I understand this. I understand this ALL TOO WELL. You have ATTEMPTED to sleep and you have been unsuccessful in ACHIEVING sleep.

BUT! Think about what you're saying if you're having trouble TRYING to sleep. You attempt to lie down in your bed to attempt sleep and there is a force-field between you and your bed. Or you continuously lie down and fall immediately out of your bed. Or you attempt to close your eyes, but someone holds them open and you strain and strain to get your eyes closed. That is what having trouble TRYING says to me. That you are ATTEMPTING to sleep and that you have having trouble with your ATTEMPT.

BUT! Even then? You are having trouble GETTING INTO AND/OR STAYING BED. You are having trouble CLOSING YOUR EYES. The trouble is not in the ATTEMPT, the trouble is in the ACTUAL DOING. As Yoda says, "Do or do not. There is no try." Except the grammar of THAT statement is also questionable, so FORGET I USED IT OMG.

What I'm TRYING to convey here, and perhaps I am failing in the ACTUAL CONVEYANCE, is that you cannot have trouble TRYING. You can only have trouble DOING.

And I'm pretty sure I'm right about this.

By now, you may be asking yourself: "Why the hell is this important? [She swore again! She must be riled up! Except that really? She just made YOU swear. Which is different than actually swearing. It's like quoting a movie--it's not REALLY swearing.] It's one line in one song that wasn't all that good [I'm projecting good taste on to you, just go with it] and isn't really ever on the air anymore anyway. Not to mention all of the other songs with greater grammar issues. Why is it such a big deal?"

And I will tell you: IT'S NOT. It is not important AT ALL.

EXCEPT! I made an idle comment TEN YEARS AGO and this is STILL a family joke. They think I'm being a grammar snob. And they also think I'm WRONG in my clearly-outlined and completely RATIONAL AND LOGICAL conclusions stated above. So every time I hear this song, it sets my teeth on edge. Partly because it just stands there in its WRONGNESS and is flagrantly WRONG, but also because of the hassle I'm going to get from ANY MEMBER of my family if they realize what song it is. Or if I use any combination of the words "trouble," "trying," and "sleep" in the same sentence. This has reached LEGENDARY status, people, and not in the awesome-Barney-wait-for-it-Stinson kind of legendary.

I don't even argue back anymore, because it will just ENCOURAGE them and AGGRAVATE me to no end. But I'm ashamed to admit how often I still argue this out in my head. So the other day in the shower, while I was yet again arguing with myself and my mental versions of my family members (what? shower time is THINKING time), I decided to write this post. I figured 1) this is my blog; 2) if nothing else, I will be able to get my whole argument laid out on record (whatever kind of record a blog is...) without interruption; 3) the Internet is huge and maybe I will find someone to stand with me in this never-ending battle; and 4) this is the perfect subject for the kind of ranty-style post my blog has been missing since I left my rantastic job.

I have clearly thought about this far longer than is reasonable or necessary.

SO! In conclusion: You cannot have trouble TRYING, you can only have trouble DOING. Tune in next week for Inane Grammar Rants with Elise, in which I explain how absolutes with binary states (unique, pregnant, equal, etc) CANNOT and SHOULD NOT be paired with adverbs denoting intensity (really, very, somewhat, etc). This should be a rip-roarin' good time.

P.S. I know that I just painted a giant TARGET on my blog that will encourage OBNOXIOUS people to go through this and other posts and point out all the times that I have used less than perfect grammar and you know what? I'm not even going to dissuade them. Because I DID kind of ask for it and these people are not the type to be dissuaded anyway. But fair warning? I will point out any grammatical flaws in your comment if you do this. As is my right. Let the obnoxion begin.


God is Not a White Man

I can't stop watching this music video. I find it hilarious, adorable, and challenging. It's a music video made entirely of FELT. I have your attention now, don't I? Anyway, this song pretty much sums up how I try to see God and people. I fall short sometimes, but I hope I'm getting better at this. And before you click away, thinking that this is some kind of preachy, evangelistic attempt to convert you to my way of thinking, I promise it's not. Just give it a chance. I'm pretty sure, no matter your personal beliefs, you will find this both funny and cute.

And if not, you can... I don't know... Punch me in the stomach? (John Green's preferred method of book recommendation, which works for me since none of you know where I live.) Leave a nasty comment? (I haven't really encountered any of those here, so it'll at least be something new for me.) I'll leave that up to you...

Gungor: "God is Not a White Man"

[You may have to click through on some readers. Sorry about the extra click. I hate them, too.]


Sunday Afternoon Thoughts

The title makes it sound like it's a recurring feature or something, which is just silly, because I'm sure there hasn't been any kind of regular feature on this blog, except for NaBloPoMo. And even then, the only "regular" part of it was that I posted every day. Nothing else I wrote had any kind of theme. Or met any version of the definition of "regular" for that matter. I'm pretty sure exactly zero of you needed this explained, but I think my delete key needs a break (cover letter writing and my lack of self-confidence this week wore it out), so you're all stuck with this as an intro. Or this: I have some thoughts; they are not connected; bullets.

  • It is ridiculous how often I find myself praying that I do not get in a car accident, not because I'm afraid of injury (Although I am. See also: snow anxiety), but because I'm afraid that any extra pressure against the lap belt with cause me to lose control of my bladder. I guess Papa's rule about visiting the restroom before getting in the car did not last into adulthood.

  • It's been gorgeous out lately and the snow is rapidly disappearing, which means that everyone and their cousin is out on the bike paths. Running, jogging, biking, and walking dogs. And all of it is making me wish I had a dog. I would be so fit if I had a dog that needed long walks to work off energy.

  • If I got a dog, it would probably be some kind of lab. Chocolate (predictable, right?). And I would name it something cute and quirky with just a slight edge of irony. Like my pastor's dog. His name is Solomon and I have never met a dumber animal (and that's including my hamster named Cookie who only moved about once a week). He's all happy energy and brute strength. I always forget his name and then think, "It's a Bible name. With an S. Must be Samson." Which would be much more fitting. But less funny.

  • It'll probably snow or do something else Far Northish tomorrow and I will see those same people with those same dogs and I will be supremely grateful that I did not go to the shelter and pick out a dog today. But it sure is tempting.

  • Sometimes I wish I could take a picture of myself and then forget what I look like. Well, basically, I'd like to look at that photo and see myself as a stranger might. I wonder what things I would notice. I wonder which things I would forgive. I'm so used to the face in the mirror that sometimes I wonder if I'm missing out on some crucial information. Like someone who proofreads their own work; they know what it's supposed to say, so they don't read what it actually says or see the typos. I don't mean this in some WOE IS ME I AM SO UGLY BUT I DO NOT EVEN UNDERSTAND HOW UGLY I AM kind of way. I just mean it would be interesting. Psychologically speaking. Or is it sociologically? Anthropologically? One of those liberal arts that would have been more profitable interesting than the one I picked...

  • I used to use the phrase Bad Decision Tuesday pretty frequently. Because most of my bad choices, usually regarding food on my lunch break when I was trying to escape my awful job, seemed to happen on Tuesdays since my weekend strength only lasted that long. Then I started using it describe any bad decision, on Tuesdays or otherwise. Which was probably funny to no one but me. BUT! I just had a phrase pop into my head, something along the lines of, "This plan was brought to you by the Bad Idea Twins." And I was kind of sad that I don't have a pair of friends that I can call the Bad Idea Twins. They would probably be a lot of fun to have around. I'm not talking about friends who CHRONICALLY make ACTUAL bad decisions and you're always having to bail them out or listen to their sob stories. Those people are annoying. I mean the kind of friends who come up with ridiculous and hairbrained ideas that would push me out of my comfort zone to attempt things that will make hilarious stories for my grandchildren. Right now, all I have for them is "I wore yoga pants and ate a lot of cake." That's sure to keep them laughing...

  • Something just occurred to me: I think I have a much greater chance of having grandchildren (or, you know, CHILDREN) if I put down the cake, change out of my yoga pants, and have some crazy adventures. I might actually meet someone then... Hmmm. Food for thought. Doesn't taste quite as good as cake, though.

  • I'm a big fan of automatic updates on my laptop, because I cannot possibly be expected to track down all of the updates my computer needs. But I swear, every stupid time I open my laptop, Adobe tries to update me. And all I can think is, "Adobe, you're like a preteen on Facebook--constant updates about nothing remotely interesting. Go outside and play. I'm busy."

  • I just found this birthday card Brother gave to Sister on her last birthday (this is an example of the kind of familial love I'm always bragging about).
Cover: "I couldn't ask for a better sister."

Inside: "Well, I could--but I think Mom's too old now. Happy Birthday, anyway!" His message: "I think they call this a Double Burn. Or would it be a 2nd Degree Burn? Happy Birthday!"

  • I WARNED you that none of this was connected. So if you felt like this post was a waste of your time, you really only have yourself to blame.


What My Cover Letters Are Really Telling You

Dear Hiring Manager,

My name is Elise Seaton (Well, no, it's not actually, but for the purposes of this blog post? Sure!) and I am interested in the open position of [ANYTHING EVER I DON'T CARE I NEED MONEY OMG]. My background with both [Crazy] and [Hostile] offices, along with my Bachelor of Arts degrees in [Highly Unmarketable Liberal Art] and [Useless But Important Sounding Quasi-Business Thingy], give me a unique skill set that would serve this position well.

My educational background makes me incredibly qualified to [sit on my yoga-panted rear and occasionally pass a standardized test]. I graduated Summa Cum Laude (Seriously, I know I'm acting like these degrees mean something other than "I paid close to $200,000 for these two pieces of paper to hang on my wall and they didn't even come with frames." I know no one is really fooled. But could you at least nod impressively while quietly dismissing four years of "hard" work? Thanks.), a full year ahead of schedule. During that time, I learned how to [BS really well], [play solitaire on Roommate's laptop while pretending to take notes], and [pass the aforementioned standardized tests].

My work experience has taught me [a lot of unnecessary lessons in the depths of the corruption of humanity and the things people will do to cover their own butts]. (You may have noticed a discrepancy in my dates of unemployment. I was unemployed for a 6 month stretch in 2010 and am once again unemployed for almost the same amount of time. I, uh... used that time for... traveling? Yes. I traveled. And did... VOLUNTEER WORK? And I also took time for educational pursuits, such as catching up on every episode of ANY SHOW EVER. It was very beneficial, let me tell you...)

I worked for [Crazy Boss Lady] for nine months (That is MUCH longer than you might think), during which time I gained experience in managing [hostile work and living situations], accepting responsibility [for projects and mistakes that belonged to other coworkers] (I think the experts call this "maintaining flexibility in a synergistic and collaborative work environment" or something), and researching [the best free coffee in the building]. I used my strong interpersonal skills to [unintentionally infuriate my boss on any number of occasions for reasons passing both our understandings] (mine because I couldn't figure out how to avoid pissing her off and hers because her understanding was about as extensive as a chihuahua's). If you would like a reference from that time period, please contact [ANYONE ELSE who worked in the building at the time, but please don't ask her. I have no idea what she would say, but it probably wouldn't be good. If she even remembers me...].

[After I took a nice long break for self-improvement] (see also: therapy and crying myself to sleep), I began work with [Big Jerk Boss Man]. This position required me to develop and maintain [a thick skin], to schedule and coordinate meetings for [the express purpose of public embarrassment] (his own or mine, it was always a toss up), and to liaise with other members of our organization to determine the accrual of [gossip, rumors, and slander]. References inquiries can be directed to [Conniving Ladder-Snatcher, as Big Jerk Boss Man died this week]. (Look, I don't really know what the rules are when your former boss dies and reaches a sudden and unexpected "beloved" status in your industry and you're still unemployed because you could no longer work for his soul-sucking office. It all feels a little... yucky. But a girl needs to eat, so where does that leave me?)

My skills and abilities include: efficiently and accurately meeting deadlines (if eating an entire pint of ice cream before the end of an episode of Castle qualifies), quickly assimilating [useless] data (Does anyone just NEED to know the presidents in order, forwards or backwards, with their first names? Then I'm your girl!), attempting new challenges with little or no supervision (last month I fixed our ice machine all by myself just by yanking on stuff until it made noise), developing strategies to [whisper babies], creating and modifying [but not FINISHING works of fiction], multi-tasking by [crying quietly in the corner of an office while also filing and answering phones], and determining the [absolute WORST working situations].

My background and education, along with my interpersonal skills, make me uniquely qualified to work for your organization. I believe that, given the opportunity to work with you, I could help your organization influence our community toward a better tomorrow (Or something a little less over the top. Okay, can we just agree that not having been to the dentist in years and running out of money to pay my student loans is reason enough to want this job?). Thank you for taking the time to review my credentials. I look forward to speaking to you personally regarding the position of [I NEED SOME MONEY]. Please contact me if you have any questions.


Elise Seaton

PS I'm pretty sure I'm going to get employment related spam over this, so if you're a hiring manager of any sort in any kind of industry in any part of the country, please, for the love of God, take pity on me and hire me?


I Am A Secret Agent Of Travel (Which Is Different From a Travel Agent)

My vacation is over. I’m writing this from the air over Pennsylvania (and probably LOTS of other states), on my way from Philadelphia to Minneapolis, where I will spend 10 (probably long) hours before I fly home to the Far North (Ha! You totally thought I was going to give you a city name there, didn’t you? Admit it!). Three weeks away from home feels like forever and also doesn’t feel like nearly enough time with Niece and Biggest Brother and Sister-In-Law. 

To commemorate my last night in town, Niece attempted to kill herself. Okay, it wasn’t nearly that extreme, but my racing heart sure felt like it was. She took a header off of her “big girl chair” at the dinner table, landing on her chin and biting through the side of her tongue, which bled and bled and made her pregnant mother nauseous with both worry and blood-related aversions. Then, after she had calmed down and sucked on a few ice cubes and had her bath, she bonked her head on a doorframe, trying to avoid being more than three inches away from her mother’s side. Needless to say, the evening was a slightly traumatic way to say good-bye.

Since Niece is so verbal and has such an excellent memory (Example: when my parents visited two months ago, my mother made a comment about how, when Niece was a big girl, she could maybe ride a horsey, since she was so enamored with them. Now, any time we praise her for acting like a big girl, she asks, “Me ride horsey now? Ride black horsey? Mommy, daddy help?”), we decided to prepare her for my departure a day or two in advance. 

In order to help her understand that I wasn’t going to live with them permanently, I started asking where various people in her life live, thinking I’d ease in. But her response to every question formatted “Where does _____ live?” was “in church” or “to work.” So I started asking her where people slept. For some reason, that worked and she understood that I usually sleep in a bed in [Far North] in the same house as Sister (This is where I REALLY wish I used our real names, because then I could phonetically spell out the adorable ways she pronounces our names with her version of Auntie in front of them). But every time I tried to explain that I needed to go back to that bed and that I wouldn’t be there for Easter, she would frown very seriously and say, in the most matter-of-fact voice, “But me need you, Onta [Elsie].” Break my heart, kid. Go ahead; I don’t mind. 

Anyway, leaving was ridiculously difficult (I welled up a little, then did my classic feeling-avoidance moves and read about other people’s feeling son blogs) and I imagine she’s going to ask for me for a while and probably refuse to talk to be on the phone because GIRL CAN HOLD A GRUDGE! So, I’m totally looking forward to that… Compounding the issue was the obnoxion that was trying to check in for my flight on Delta. I cannot BELIEVE the things they are charging for these days and the hoops they are making us jump through. Okay, I’m sure I’m not the first to complain about this and y’all are probably all, “We’re SO over it by now. Oh, and also? Stop complaining about the ‘new’ body scanners already, that’s so 2011…”

But man, I miss my civil liberties and the money that used to be in my bank account. I guess this is just the cost of living safe in the land of the free. Wait… Huh? Okay, I’ll avoid getting all politically ranty up in here, since it’s PURPOSEFULLY not my style (on the blog anyway—meet me in real life and we will have a very different conversation), but can I just say that I HATE them? And that I stand inside them with my hands above my head with (what I hope is) a clear demonstration of my rage on my face and in my posture, just to make sure that those who are looking at my digitally naked body understand that I’m COMPLYING, but I am NOT HAPPY ABOUT IT (because, as a habitual Rule Follower, I am destined to be a chronic Hoop Jumper, no matter my level of indignation)? And also: that it boggles my mind that we have them at the Airport of the Far North, but Philadelphia doesn’t? Because that seems inconsistent and strange. 

I seem to have lost the thread of this post… Ah yes. Ending my vacation. I loved everything about this trip and am really sad it’s over. Pennsylvania, you’re kind of awesome (well, the twenty square miles of you I saw). You’re awesome enough that I started looking at job opportunities in the Philadelphia area, JUST IN CASE. You know, in case I get a sudden signal from heaven that PHILLY IS WHERE IT’S AT, ELISE. GO FORTH AND LOVE THE AMISH! Or something. 

I’m pretty sure that as soon as I get home, I will remember all of the reasons I moved back there in the first place, despite the six feet of snow remaining in my yard (which will probably still be there in May, even though the rest of the country seems to have collectively made a 2012 New Year’s Resolution “to prove some variation of the global warming theory and confuse meteorologists, just for kicks”). Added to this will be my DEEP LOATHING anything dealing with a) packing; b) moving; and c) things that are packing/moving ADJACENT, including but not limited to 1) house hunting, 2) cable/Internet installations, 3) learning new road systems, and 4) realizing that NO SINGLE PERSON WITH NO MONEY SHOULD HAVE THIS MUCH CRAP. All of this means I am probably NOT moving to Pennsylvania anytime soon. But you never know (See my capslocky rendition of the voice of God in the previous paragraph).

Which means that there is no longer any barrier to me looking for and, you know, OBTAINING some form of employment in my hometown. I kept putting it off because I was always just BACK from travelling or just ABOUT TO travel or in the MIDDLE of wearing yoga pants and watching television. But really? My last official day was October 3, 2011. It is now April 2012 (in case you somehow missed that fact). Enough is enough, Elise; get off your rear and be productive already.

But before I end this rambling diatribe masquerading as a blog post, I need to comment on the travel thing. I did not leave Far North ONE SINGLE TIME in 2011, so this year has been very weird. I did some math (counting calendar squares is math, right?) and I have spent a grand total of 47 nights in my own bed in 2012. That’s less than HALF of this year so far.  Wow, that might comes off kind of dirty. Let me assure you: except for seven nights spent stealing the covers back from Roommate and failing to keep her from sleeping in my armpit (oh, and the endless fights with Satan’s Cat to JUST STOP SCRATCHING MY FACE ALREADY), I have spent all those nights in other beds ALONE.

January started off normal, but I think it was just lulling me into a false sense of security. Then February hit. I spent three nights of February in my own bed. First, I went to see Roommate on my way to Phoenix (and PJ’s @ TJs). When I got home, Sister was out of town (being frivolous and learning how to do her new job, pfft) which meant I was in her room with Satan’s “I USE MY CLAWS TO SHOW MY LOVE” Cat. I thought March would be fine, since I only had the two night retreat, but then Pennsylvania called and I was off again. 

I’m not complaining, by the way—I feel truly blessed with all of these opportunities. I just find it all very unusual. But here is my one complaint: most of the other beds I slept in were queen-sized, which makes it more and more difficult to return to my pathetic little (broken) twin bed. And actually? I won’t even get to spend tonight in my own bed, even though I’ll be in my own house, since Sister is in Alabama being a Groomswoman for a college friend. So I will sleep in her bed to better corral Satan’s Cat. 

Maybe this is not noteworthy to you… Maybe you spend the majority of your nights in beds other than your own. Maybe you even do this in the fashion I unintentionally implied. Maybe you make a habit of sneaking into mattress stores and trying out a new bed every night just to be eccentric and have anecdotes of your eccentricity to put in your autobiography someday. Whatever. It’s notable for me. I am a creature of habit and I CRAVE stability. So 2012 has been a little more topsy-turvy than I’m used to. Not bad. Just DIFFERENT. 

Wow, apparently being trapped on a plane with no internet access—and no toddlers tugging me to “come on; me show you sumpsing”—makes me wordy. Wordier. Whatever. I wish I had a great way to wrap this up, but I have two hours of flight time left to ponder the imponderable and gaze at my navel, so I think I’ll just cut this off by saying that a Dunkin’ Donuts large iced coffee is indeed LARGE and I need to mosey down the aisle to avoid an unfortunate public incident. 

Until next time, when I’m sure I will again stun you with my limitless fount of blogging prowess. Have a Happy Easter. Or, you know, don’t. It’s really up to you.


The Crazy Boss Thing Started Early

Niece is currently napping, so I think it's a prime opportunity to post something. On a side note, has anyone ever researched the sedative properties of breast milk? Because this kid only nurses at nap time and bed time anymore, but it only takes about four minutes before she is in a FULL-ON MILK COMA. Sister-In-Law tells me it's just the combination of filling her tummy, comfort, and making her STOP MOVING long enough to fall asleep. And while that sounds reasonable and logical, I have further suspicions...

Anyway, moving on. A'Dell posted today about her first job and asked for other people's stories. And while I'm sure you are all SICK by now of hearing about my last two awful bosses and the crazy situations they put me in, I've never told you about my early years as a Productive Member of the Workforce.

Technically, my first job was babysitting. I started when I was twelve or thirteen, I think. Mostly a few hours an afternoon every once in a while during the summer--nothing that required more skill than watchful eyes and the ability to open PlayDoh containers. It was around that time that I started helping out in the nursery at church, so I feel like I've been taking care of babies and kids practically my whole life. I think this only fed my baby-fever from an early age.

When I was fourteen, my brother (who was sixteen at the time) worked for an ice cream shop--one that specializes in mixing the ice cream with various treats on a stone slab right in front of you. I'm sure you can guess which one, but I'm not going to say the name and you'll understand why in a moment. I would often accompany my mom when she dropped off or picked up my brother from work (he had his license, but limited access to the car) and the owner seemed to like me a lot. So one day, she offered me a job. I worked there from September 2001 until February 2002.

Now, fourteen is a VERY young age to start working at a real job that required a W2 and all that. In fact, it was the youngest you could work in my state and I was only allowed to work for three hours at a time, only nine hours a week, and I could not be scheduled after 9:00 pm. But I had a REAL JOB. And for a little while, I loved it! We got free ice cream every shift and I felt grown up and responsible and I had MONEY that was my VERY OWN and all of that.

And then. I began to realize that the owners were kind of off their rockers. They played mind games. They played favorites. They change their minds and changed favorites. They unexpectedly cut or added hours. They might have even stolen tips... They were just slightly unhinged. When my brother and I needed time off for a family vacation at Christmas, they messed around with our hours and threatened not to let us have the time off, which was stupid because my parents had already purchased plane tickets so the most they were going to accomplish was to force us to quit, not give up our vacation. Then, at the "Business Christmas Party," which happened to be the night before we were flying out, the owner wished us well and hoped the plane would crash.

No, that was not a typo. I didn't mean she hoped the plane wouldn't crash. And remember, this was December 2001. Three months after the biggest terrorist attack this country has ever seen that utilized AIRPLANES as its weapons. And she HOPES THE PLANE CARRYING TWO YOUNG TEENS AND THEIR FAMILY (and about 100 other people unconnected to her) WOULD CRASH. And then she laughed and laughed as if this was not the most terrifying thing our young minds could think of at the time. Needless to say, we both quit soon after.

My next job was working for some family friends who were photographers. The husband did scenic/landscape photography and his wife took pictures of dogs. For calendars. And coffee mugs. What? It's a LEGITIMATE BUSINESS. I swear. She made a profit and everything. They ran their businesses out of their home and, as sad as I am to perpetuate this stereotype about Far North, their home was a log cabin. Which meant it was drafty. And the office was in the basement. Most of us called it the Dungeon. And we would often wear two or three layers with gloves. In the summertime...

Anyway, the wife was a student teacher in Sister's 4th (?) grade class before she married the photographer and that's how we got to know them. Eventually, all of us kids worked for them at one time or another, doing basic office work, like filing the photographs and keeping up the database. But I was the only one who go to do the BEST part of the job. You see, the wife had JUST gotten into the dog photography when I was hired (she gave up teaching to spend time with her husband, who had to travel a lot for his artwork). She built a studio above their garage and had all of this miniature furniture and set dressings and costumes.

And my job in all of this? To stand behind her camera and jump up and down while making ridiculous noises to get the dogs to look at me. But not TOO much noise, because we didn't want the dog to leave the set and chase me. JUST ENOUGH to look up and let her get a good shot. This is a skill I do NOT list on my resume. As you can imagine, this did not turn out to be my life's passion or fulfilling work, so I moved on to other things, although I did go back and work for them in the summers during college, for some extra cash.

Then, for most of my sophomore and junior years of high school, I did occupational and behavioral therapy for a high-functioning autistic boy in my church. This was one of the most rewarding and most exhausting jobs I have ever had and I have an enormous amount of respect for both the parents of those on the spectrum and for those who live their lives on the spectrum. The little boy was almost four when I started working with him, about 12 hours a week, and he was one of the cutest and sweetest kids I have ever known. I worked with 3-5 therapists, his parents, and his doctor and I learned an incredible amount about parenting, autism, and life in general. My senior year was going to be hectic, due to my over-achieving ways, so I quit at the end of the summer. In some ways, it was a relief, since the mom could be difficult and I spent a lot of time babysitting the siblings while also trying to do therapy (not helpful for anyone). But in other ways, I missed it a great deal.

All the other jobs I took during college and after are too intertwined with the secrets I'm keeping from you and from Google (mostly from Google), so I can't talk much about them. But I will tell you that, despite the fact that these experiences shaped who I am and I wouldn't trade them for a second, none of these jobs have anything to do with what I do now. Or what I used to do. Six months ago. Before I quit doing it. Temporarily. I think...

But if you were to ask me what my dream job is, it would probably include more of those jobs and the skills they taught me than my current occupation: a stay-at-home-mom who eats ice cream with her kids and takes photos of her dog and also her kids and maybe even does volunteer work for spectrum disorders. That would be a pretty sweet life!

What about you? What were your first jobs like? Did they start you on the path you're on now or just fill your pocket for the summer?


On Vacation (From My Not So Strenuous Life)

Hi guys! Thanks for all of your wonderful comments and support on my last post! I didn't intend to leave it up there for so long with no new content to push it down the list, since it's quite depressing. And there's even a part of me that wants to deflect and obfuscate and say that I didn't really mean a lot of it, that it was late at night, I'd had some wine, and was feeling sorry for myself. Or to make a joke of it all. Because that way it seems less real. But the truth is, I meant it all. And it's all still true, whether I'm comfortable with that concept or not. So it took me a while to be brave and be able to write a post that didn't brush it all under the rug.

And then there were all kinds of busyness on my end. Well, who am I kidding? I'm unemployed, so "busyness" to me is anything that requires me to wear something other than yoga pants. But I did go on a weekend church retreat with about 30 teenagers (five hours on a bus there 40 hours at the camp, and five hours back, with very little sleep in between), which was fun. Fun and exhausting. And for a split second, it was terrifying, when one of the boys put another one in a headlock and accidentally choked him into unconsciousness. But then the boy came to and seemed okay and his parents decided we didn't need to take him to the ER, so it all turned out okay. No last brain damage to date (that I know of), so I think we're cool.

My sister-in-law (who is married to Biggest Brother) called on the Monday morning after the retreat and asked me if I wanted to come visit. We'd been trying to arrange a visit for me for a month or so, since they had some spare air miles to use up, but we hadn't nailed down any dates. So we looked online and talked and the just... booked a ticket. For the following Sunday night. So I jumped up and did loads and loads of laundry and sent e-mails to get out of my (very limited) duties at church. And before I knew it, I was eating frozen yogurt at the airport waiting for my flight. Almost 20 hours later, I was landing in--

You know what? I'm getting kind of sick of my own secrecy on this blog. I bet you guys are, too. It's entirely necessary and sometimes I love the anonymity of it and I'm not going to stop on a lot of the important things like my name, location, or profession (basically anything that is easily google-able). But it's stupid to be so secretive about where I am when I'm traveling! So I'm just going to tell you.

Biggest Brother and Sister-In-Law (and Niece and soon-to-arrive Niece or Nephew) live in AMISH COUNTRY. Yep. Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. They just recently moved here from the suburbs of LA, so it's a huge change for them. And they LOVE it. There are rolling hills and farmland and horse-and-buggies and COWS and all kinds of countrish things. And it is wonderful. Brother has been known to yell "LOVE IT!" at random intervals while driving. It's actually unpleasantly loud and screechy (sorry, buddy), but the enthusiasm is infectious.

Also, Niece is in love with all things "horshie" (she just turned two years old), so this is like heaven on earth for her. Although I'm pretty sure everything dragon-related (what she calls "heynows" because of an Aussie kid's show called Jane and the Dragon, which has "Hey now, hey now now" as the chorus in the theme song) is quickly eclipsing the horshies. Heynows and drain-gons and Ell-ee-ut (Elliott from Pete's Dragon) are some of the favorite topics of conversation.

I've been here for almost a week and a half, which is exactly halfway through my trip (It's amazing how easy it is to travel when you have no responsibilities and someone else paid for the ticket! I could totally get used to this!). Niece's vocabulary skills are exploding! She speaks in paragraphs now and it's amazing some of the things she tells me. She calls me "Onnie [adorable child version of my real name that I wish I could share with you, but I cannot]" She even learned one of the songs from Pete's Dragon, "I love you, too," which she sings as "Ahlowah, too." That's also how she says "I love you" at bedtime: "Ahlowah, too, Daddy! You okay? Guhnite!"

The other day, she looked at me and said, very seriously, "Me two. [holding out two fingers] You a hunna dolla." We're still not sure if that means I'm worth a hundred dollars or if I'm a hundred dollars old, and whether that's big or little. But it was adorable nonetheless. She knows "hunna dolla" because when she sings "Tomorrow" from Annie, she sings "bet your bottom dollar" as "bet ya hunna dolla." I cannot get enough of this kid!

I'm loving it here and am actually considering a relocation. Wait! Pause. Slow down (Mom and Sister, especially). Don't get ahead of yourselves. I have no actual plans to move. But after my two failed attempts at being a Responsible Grown-Up with a Reliable Income in the Far North, I'm contemplating going back to school for some kind of grad work and any decent school would require a new address. Plus, the last few times I've been out of Far North, I've felt this pull to stay where it is warm and sunny and cheap...

BUT! I have not given the job search the old college try yet this time. Oh, Lord, this time? My life is kind of a trainwreck, huh? Okay, don't answer that. Where was I? Oh yes, reasons to stay in Far North. It's about to be spring there, which means there will be less snow on the ground soon, as opposed to the MONTHS of accumulating it ad nauseam. PLUS? I have a pretty sweet deal with Sister and I live so close to family. AND? More school debt? Not really an enticing idea.

BUT! The East Coast would be great for school and would be warmer for more of the year and also would be close to SOME family, especially the growing and changing portion of the family (see: Niece and soon-to-arrive Niece or Nephew), which I ache to know that I'm missing out on this for most of the year.


I have no idea. I'm really conflicted. And a lot of it is the fact that this winter has been hard. Don't get me wrong, Far North winters are always rough and getting to lay around in yoga pants all day kind of sounds like a dream. But spending a long, dark, cold winter cooped up in the house with Snow Anxiety and nothing to accomplish and beginning to feel like you left your job for no other reason than you are stupid and selfish and a coward who can't hack it is not really the delight it pretends to be. So I should probably give Being Employed in My Hometown one more chance before I make any radical decisions. I think....

What I do know is that I miss blogging. I REALLY miss it. I dream about it. I write posts as I'm drifting off to sleep (hey, do you think that might be why I dream about it?). And it's not like I've RUN OUT OF THINGS TO SAY! I've just gotten lazy. And a little discouraged by my laptop/Internet issues. And, as far as excuses go? NaBloPoMo was a lot of work, but it was fun and I loved having a relationship with my readers. But afterward, I felt kind of burned out and I totally used that as a crutch. But this is a thing I CAN accomplish. And I should pour a little bit back into the thing that kept me sane through my last job-failure. So while I am searching for and (hopefully) adjusting to a new job, I'm going to be here, yakking your ear off, come hell or high water.

Having good Internet here at Brother's house and a set nap time for Niece should totally help. Here's hoping I can find my rhythm again.


Where Is the Song for the Absent Things?

I've been feeling kind of low lately. Kind of empty. And I know that when [on the rare occasion that] I post [at all lately], it's usually some kind of administrative information or it's humorous. Or, at least, an attempt at humorous...ness. But I'm not feeling the humor so much tonight.

Maybe it's the let-down of coming home from PJs@TJ's, to which nothing else can compare in AWESOMENESS. Maybe it's because I've been living by myself for almost three weeks while Sister is out of town for job training. Maybe it's because I've been spending a lot of time with Godson and his mom, who is pregnant with a new Godson or Goddaughter due this summer and who has TWO nieces on the way as well. Or maybe it's because there were potato chips on sale a few weeks ago and I didn't buy them. Who can tell?

Whatever the trigger happened to be, I have spent the better part February incredibly lonely. And not just lonely "for the company of other human beings." Because when I feel that the house is overwhelming in its quietude, I pick up the phone or I hop in my car and I connect with other livings beings (who are not cats intent on smothering me in my sleep). It's not that I'm craving human contact, it's that I'm craving a particular human. Whom I haven't yet met.

I think it will come as a surprise to exactly NO ONE who has been reading this blog for more than a minute that I am single. S-I-N-G-L-E single. And that this is not by choice. I mean, yes, I could have chosen to throw myself at anything male with a pulse and I would be in a relationship right now, if that was all it took. So when I say ""not by choice" I guess I should say that I'm not living out my twenties in some quest to "find myself" or "put myself first" or "have a career because love and family is for later" or "casually date around with no strings attached" or even "enjoy what single life had to offer" (I'm also not saying those are poor choices; they're just not MY choices... But you get that, right? Because you're smart and cool and we're friends. Which means this parenthetical is actually kind of useless. So I'll use it to say hello to my mother: "Hi, Mom!" There, that's better).

If it had been up to me and not my Heavenly Father (and a decent amount of logic, parental advice, and, oh yes, A COMPLETE LACK OF OPTIONS), I would have gotten married sophomore year of college and would have 1.5 kids already... is what I'm saying.

And while this is probably sounding like a midnight pity party, thrown by an insecure Junior High girl and attended by zero guests (because, duh, LONELY!), I feel like this has been on my mind and heart lately and I need to get it out. And I realized, "Hey! I have a blog! For my thoughts! And I'm having a few of them right now!" AND? I'm not actually asking for pity. Shut up! I mean it! I'm just trying to put into words what I'm feeling. Because I cannot possibly be the only one who has ever felt this way and I strongly believe that the Internet was created for "ME, TOO!" moments (well, and probably porn, but we're not talking about that, okay?). So bear with me, will you, my friends?

You see, I think we spend a lot of time talking about loss. On television, in movies, in books, or in song. We read about heartbreak and we talk about death. We sing about the pain of losing someone or of being unable to make it work. But where is the song for the Absent Things? The things we never had in the first place, so we cannot mourn their passing?

Because the pain is there. At least for me. And I figure for others as well. There is an ache in my heart and an emptiness in my life that cannot be explained in simple terms. It's not loss. And it's not even rejection. In fact, I'm struggling right now with how to tell you without sounding like a sadsack loser who is begging the Internet to marry her.

Because I have a good life. A warm bed. A full belly. A safe home. I have more than over 80% of the world's population. And I need you to understand that I an NOT complaining about those things. I am incredibly grateful for the blessings in my life.

Including my family. I have a wonderful set of parents that live less than five miles away and love me in a way that I wish every kid in the world got to experience because I'm pretty sure we would not have wars or violence if everyone grew up loved the way my parents loved me. And I have a fabulous Sister who is also my best friend and whom I never want to live without. And I have a brother and sister-in-law who live five miles away (in the other direction) who are a delight and an example of what young married love can be. And I have another brother and sister-in-law and a niece (and a niece or nephew on the way) who have been a constant joy in my life and who I wish were able to live closer.

I have a family.

But I do not have a Family with a capital F. A husband. Children of my own. And there is an emptiness where they should be which does not, in any way, negate the love my family has for me or that I feel right back at them. In fact, I'm pretty sure that the desire to fill this void is a direct result of the wonderful life I have lived. I want to share it with someone.

At the risk of angering or offending women with infertility issues, I'm going to make a VERY LOOSE comparison. Since I've never tried to have a baby, I fully admit that I cannot know the depths of the pain or emptiness a family feels when they cannot have children. But in some ways, I wonder if we have something in common: for all my wishing and hoping and trying and waiting, I cannot just MAKE THIS HAPPEN for myself. And it's something that seems to have come so easily for almost everyone else around me.

Since I was in High School, the world has been pairing off around me. And when I look at all of the people I interact with on a regular basis, 95% of them are married, most with their own Families. And while everyone's "how we met" stories are personal and unique and required a certain amount of waiting and hoping and risk and whatever else, they have also ALREADY HAPPENED. They met, they fell in love, and BAM! happily ever after.

I know. I know. It's never that easy. And there are plenty of single people still out there, waiting and hoping just like me. And I'm pretty sure that SOMEDAY I will meet the man of my dreams and fall in love and BAM! happily ever after. And I will look back at all my fretting and loneliness with a kind of fondness, knowing it all paved the road that lead me to him or some other sentimental ridiculousness that is probably still true despite how sentimental and ridiculous it all seems. And I KNOW that I do not want to get ahead of myself and marry the wrong man and then end up alone ANYWAY. And I AM trusting the Lord to bring me the right man at the right time (mostly... some days... I'm trying, okay?).

But can we just stop for a moment and recognize that there is pain in the waiting? That the wanting and yearning to share your life with someone is actually UNCOMFORTABLE and LONELY and IT HURTS? That there is a space that cannot be filled by anything other than Family with a capital F and until that happens, that space is EMPTY and yet still PRESENT?

That is what I am feeling this week. A hole in my heart where HE and MY KIDS should be. A hole that will someday, by the grace of a loving and merciful God, be occupied by exactly what I need. And that will maybe not hurt so badly tomorrow if I can just find some rest in a yet-again-empty bed. That is all.

Thanks for listening and have a good night.

And can you do me a favor? Can you kiss your spouse or hug your kids and whisper a thank you for your own empty space that isn't so empty anymore? On behalf those of us still waiting?