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.