right now: june 2020

Making: this, in a plummy purple

Cooking: all the time, of course, like everyone, but nothing super-memorable. Chicken, veggies, rice, you know.

Drinking: coffee (my default answer); trying to drink more water; Bishop Cider Co.’s Mango Habanero Cider (it’s good. can’t really tell the habanero’s there except for the smallest hint of a sting)

Reading: How to Be Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi; Glorious Weakness by Alia Joy; Who Shall Ascend the Hill of the Lord by L. Michael Morales. I blitzed through a bunch of stuff last month, all fiction, and my brain wanted to switch back to nonfiction.

Wanting: to go hang out and read somewhere that is not the house; barbecue; to figure out what to do next in terms of everything going on in the world

Looking: at my own soul–on a podcast a while back I heard this term, I can’t remember what it is exactly, but basically it’s being vulnerable, but about the things that you don’t need to be vulnerable about so you have the appearance of being vulnerable without, you know, actually doing work on things you need to do work on. ANYWAY I am very guilty of that, and while my blog’s not the place to spill my guts everywhere, I need to be better about being honest with people.

Playing: entirely too much Disney Emoji Blitz

Deciding: which books to buy for my friends who are having kids (I have four friends who are pregnant and all due in the latter part of this year)

Wishing: it wasn’t so blasted hot

Enjoying: the fact that this is a short work week, hurrah

Waiting: to hear back from someone I’d contacted a couple of months ago…

Wondering: when in the world I’m going to go back to the office–working from home is starting to take a mental toll on me

Loving: writing this blog post–I’m trying to be better about writing and it feels good to be sitting here writing to y’all, all four of you that actually read this

Pondering: a couple of things re: my future–praying through some church-related and job-related stuff

Considering: trying again with the bike (I bought one that was too short for me; I need to go get fitted properly for one)

Buying: maybe too many books, which is a thing I never thought I’d say

Watching: The Great on Hulu; Central Park on Apple TV+; The Final Table on Netflix; all of the Disney movies on Disney+

Hoping: people come to their senses re: COVID and re: systemic racism in America

Needing: to get up and drink more water, I think…

Smelling: the same candle as last month (Fresh Cut Flowers from Eleventh Candle Company

Wearing: jeans and an Old Navy t-shirt, just like high school and college

Admiring: all of the people who are finding ways to love their neighbor and direct their outrage into lament and grace

on mission

I went to a prayer walk the other night. Like pretty much everyone I know right now, I am trying to speak up and take action about racism and police brutality in this country, and as a Christian I figure prayer is as important as anything right now, so I went, with my roommate and her boyfriend.

The walk was organized by a local ministry that does work in underserved neighborhoods, mostly predominantly Black ones. It’s led by white guys. The walk was led by white guys. They talked about how the African-American community needs our help, and framed it in terms of crime and poverty and brokenness.

I don’t doubt that they’re doing good work, honestly, and I believe they’re sincere in their desire to help. And the exercise was a good reminder that there really is a spiritual element to everything going on; I believe there is a demonic presence involved. But the whole time I kept thinking, So when are we going to prayer walk with our middle-class, educated Black neighbors?

Non-Black brothers and sisters, Black people are not our mission field. They’re not our service project. Underserved communities tend to be predominantly Black, and there are historical reasons for that, but now is not the time to conceive of ourselves as saviors; now is the time to de-center ourselves and let them take the lead. Now is the time to step back and shine a light on the work they’ve been doing for literally centuries.

things i want to remember from the pandemic, part 2.

If I read or hear the phrase “unprecedented times” again, I’m going to break something.

Use up your greens first.

It is okay to be not okay.

But it’s also okay to be okay. (I have trouble with this one more, believe it or not.)

Re: the Enneagram–the 4’s core sin is envy, and boy howdy has that been showing up in spades the past few months.

The Enneagram Institute’s email this morning, which kicked my butt: “What would it be like if you did not think that everything is a referendum about you?”

Not wearing a face mask out does not make you look cool and macho; it makes you look like a selfish dumbass.

Not totally pandemic-related, but it turns out that living sand dollars eat iron ore (found in sand) so they can weigh themselves down and not float away in the bottom of the ocean.

things i want to remember from the pandemic, part 1.

How scarily easy it is for me to stay by myself even though I know that I need other people in order to stay sane, much less be a person that follows Jesus.

People we deemed “essential” during an emergency got treated as though they were expendable or replaceable by people and corporations; I will not be surprised if this leads to demands for labor reform.

This did not affect all of us equally. We were not in this together; we were in it in our respective neighborhoods and incomes and jobs with people of similar socioeconomic status and that worked out better for some of us than others.

Left to my own devices, I eat way too many carbs.

I’m so glad I own stock in Netflix.

It is remarkably easy to give money, less so to give myself.

It is remarkably easy for me to forget that I have a body and that I need to take care of it unless someone is around to see me do so.

I don’t think I ever want to live alone again unless absolutely forced to.

Internet communities are still communities. But I hope I never take for granted the people I can actually sit next to and hug and eat dinner with and have conversations that aren’t mediated by pixels and light and glass with.

Because Communion is a sacrament–that is, it is a physical sign of a spiritual reality–it is actually doing something to you and in you, and going without it is a real bummer.

We have forgotten to teach people that they need to act for the greater good instead of chasing their individualistic desires and hungers, whoops.

right now: may 2020.

Making: room for all of my random crap (I moved on Thursday and I’m trying to figure out where to put things)

Cooking: not much, the past few days (see also: moving), but I have ingredients for fried rice and for spaghetti aglio e olio and other stuff, so I’m pretty excited about it. But also, frozen pizza, which I’m probably going to eat for lunch.

Drinking: coffee, always, but trying to drink more water since I didn’t for a couple of days and I got leg cramps as a result (yikes)

Reading: The Glass Castle by Emily St. John Mandel, Everything Happens For a Reason by Kate Bowler, and Living Life Backwards by David Gibson (all e-books, because all of my physical books were in boxes until yesterday).

Wanting: to go get random crap from Target; to try to convince some of my friends to go on walks, especially now that I live across the street from a park; to go outside and read on the porch or in the yard; to write cards to people; to figure out how to hang my art; to get some resistance bands and weights and come out of isolation super-jacked (haha).

Looking: at my friends’ Instagram stories, like, all day

Playing: still on that New York Times mini crossword life. Lots of Sporcle quizzes as well. As for music, I’m going through all of the Spotify playlists I had saved…

Deciding: what to do with all the crap on my desk…

Wishing: I could go to a bookstore right now…

Enjoying: calls, texts, the fire pit in the backyard, living with another human being again (and my roommate’s dog)

Waiting: for my allergy meds and coffee to kick in–my brain is super-foggy today and it’s weird

Wondering: whether or not my roommate would care if I plug in my Roku to the TV in the other room…

Loving: having access to Hulu now (and several shows that I’ve been curious about)

Pondering: going over to my friends’ and helping paint their fence tomorrow…

Considering: how easy it is for me to forget self-care and how much better I feel when I do it, haha.

Buying: a couple of dresses from Old Navy, because they were on super-sale and I had Super Cash–one of them is literally one of the most comfortable things I’ve ever worn, and I might just wear it around the house this week…

Watching: still a lot of YouTube, but also some random shows and movies (e.g., an episode of this show called Married at First Sight this afternoon with my roommate…)

Hoping: we’re able to hang out with people again in person soon and that my state’s recent lifting of some restrictions doesn’t mean we get hit with another wave of COVID (and also that the summer heat helps with the situation somewhat). I drove around for the heck of it earlier today and passed a popular bar, and the parking lot and patio were both packed, so who knows, y’all.

Needing: to get up and drink more water, I think…

Smelling: the remnants of the candle I just had burning (Fresh Cut Flowers, from Eleventh Candle Company)

Wearing: plaid pj pants and this shirt

Admiring: the folks who are keeping young humans alive; all my fellow single folks who are living alone (like I was until about 50 hours ago), the people finding creative ways to love their neighbors; the people who recognize that we need to change things in our society and who will get on board with a bunch of attempts at reform once this thing is over (and even now)

on flowers and seeds

There’s a walking trail down the street by my apartment that’s lined with fields full of wildflowers. I went out for a walk tonight, and now that it’s mid-April the bluebonnets and Indian paintbrushes have mostly gone to seed, except for a few tenacious hangers-on. The fields that were lit up with color are now tan and brown; Texas’s spring glories have given way to fuzzy pods. It’s not pretty, but a flower’s biological purpose, after all, is to bear fruit that bears seeds that grow into more flowers that bear fruit that bear seeds, from the sun’s first rising to its final going down. The flowers stick around for a month or so, and then they’re gone.

* * * * *

Today’s the fourth Thursday that I’ve been in isolation, more or less. I’ll go on walks, and I’ll pop in to the store. I got bored and stir-crazy enough the other night that I drove a full lap around the 610 loop, and it took me less than half an hour, a phenomenon that will never happen again. I’m thinking about driving around the Beltway next (after all, they’re not collecting tolls right now).

It’s been hard to concentrate on work. My brain and body think that since I’m home, my tasks are to clean or watch TV or make dinner or sit on my porch or in the bathtub and read or scroll through Instagram. This isn’t a space for spreadsheets and Zoom meetings, it’s not where I’m supposed to be checking my assistant’s time sheet.

The last person I hugged was my friend Camille, after doing a shift along with some other dear ones at the Houston Food Bank. We figured we’d see each other in a couple of weeks. That was over a month ago now.

* * * * *

It’s the Thursday after Easter and Jesus is risen from the dead and we can sing hallelujah again. And yet every Easter sermon I’ve heard this year acknowledges that it still very much feels like a season of death and grief. If we are not mourning loved ones’ physical deaths, we are mourning the deaths of hopes, or not being able to meet together, or the losses of jobs and incomes, or the continued deepening of political divides, or people being harassed or beaten because of the way they look, or the spotlight on the social inequities that have always been there.

And what’s worse is that we don’t know when this season will end. There are no solid answers. When can we go back to work? Should we be wearing masks outside or not? Oh, wait, people can spread it even though they’re asymptomatic after all? This can kill young people after all? We’re in the middle of a crisis, and there’s no end date in sight. This all sucks.

* * * * *

There is, I confess, a tendency in me to believe that this is a judgment on us–a judgment on our broken societies. And maybe for some, it is. But I am neither a prophetess nor the daughter of one; I have no word from the Lord to say one way or the other. But I do know and trust in this: That even God’s judgment is not divorced from God’s love, and that He has not abandoned this world. Maybe now He’s letting all our glory and self-sufficiency go to seed. “The grass withers and the flowers fade,” says Isaiah, an actual prophet; “He knows that we are but dust,” says David; “unless a seed falls to the ground and dies, it remains alone,” says the Lord Jesus, the prophet of prophets. Maybe our flowers fall and the seeds get pushed and plowed into the ground so that we can grow again, life upon life upon life.

right now: march 2020

Making: to-do lists that I seem to not be finishing right now, even though I’m not going anywhere

Cooking: tonight I made a pasta frittata which was pretty decent, but my skillet’s too big and so my frittata was thinner than it could’ve been. Still good, though. I made turkey meatballs last night, which, as that was the last meat in my fridge, means I’m vegetarian until my grocery pickup on Saturday, so…yay.

Drinking: coffee, Coke Zero, lots of water, lots of HEB lime sparkling water. I have noticed that I tend to stress-drink instead of stress-eat–like, not even alcohol, but I have at least two of those four things going at one time, and sometimes a cup of tea or a glass of wine gets thrown in the mix, too.

Reading: just finished the Keller book on prayer. Started East of Eden and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in the past 24 hours and might throw in a non-fiction book for fun.

Wanting: to know when this is all going to end. (For those reading in the future, I’m writing this during the COVID-19 pandemic and have been mostly staying inside and working from home.) I miss seeing my people in person. I miss going places and just hanging out.

Looking: forward to Holy Week and Easter–Palm Sunday is in a few days. This year it’s going to be supremely weird celebrating at home by myself, but the story of the gospel goes on, despite everything else.

Playing: I’ve been doing random Instagram Live and Periscope sessions where I’ll play worship songs for the heck of it, and it’s been kind of cathartic for me. And I’ve been doing the New York Times mini crossword every day (and competing against friends).

Deciding: how the heck I’m going to move at the end of April.

Wishing: I had thought to buy more rice earlier than this…

Enjoying: friends on the Internet, texts, calls, Zoom meetings. But also unplugging.

Waiting: for the news to get better; to see my folks; to go back to church; to go back to work.

Wondering: what in the world I put in my grocery order for Saturday–I did it a week ago and I have no memory of what I put in there except for frozen green beans

Loving: the weather, which has been mostly extremely pleasant the past few days.

Pondering: whether or not to go to Austin for the rescheduled thing I was going to go to about the psalms throughout church history (but it’s tentatively scheduled for the day after I move).

Considering: how bad I am at letting myself feel my feelings and how good I am at distracting myself instead.

Buying: a couple of candles from a small company who had a sale; Lore Ferguson Wilbert’s Handle With Care, from Blue Willow Books; a new sweater from Modcloth; a ticket to Hamilton when it comes through in late summer (hopefully)

Watching: mostly YouTube, if I’m being honest. I haven’t touched the movies I checked out (although I think I might just work my way through them this weekend).

Hoping: I make myself unplug sometime this week–no screens, no music, just me and God and silence.

Needing: to get boxes and pack my apartment…my future roommate says she has some, and I might need to go pick them up (although logistically that might be interesting).

Smelling: nothing at the moment, although I’ve been burning one of my candles so it’s one less thing I have to pack, it’s just not lit at the moment.

Wearing: Jeans (I know! I feel like I need to put on kind of normal clothes on days when I work), t-shirt with a vintage cover of A Wrinkle In Time on it

Admiring: all the people who are out on the front lines of this pandemic–medical personnel, janitors, grocery store workers, restaurant staff, retail workers, sanitation workers–all the people we take for granted that are literally saving the world right now.

100 random things to do if you’re bored

I wrote most of this list when I was in college or grad school, I think. I just went through and updated it for 2020 (I had a lot of references to iPods and CDs). If you can think of your own, put it in the comments.

1. Make 100 lists of 100 things—100 things you want to do before you die, books you want to read, places you want to go, albums you love, whatever.

2. Listen to your whole music library.

3. Get a coloring book and crayons and revert to your childhood.

4. Play with sidewalk chalk.

5. Make a posterboard-sized collage.

6. Clean out your desk.

7. Clean off your computer’s desktop and clean out the downloads folder.

8. Read a whole book in one sitting.

9. Put on a play in your backyard.

10. Write a long letter to someone you haven’t seen in a while.

11. Learn a new hobby or skill.

12. Watch all the episodes on your favorite YouTube channel.

13. Blow up a whole package of balloons.

14. Write a sestina.

15. Make a meal using everything in your fridge.

16. Bake something from scratch.

17. Fill up a notebook in 24 hours.

18. Make a poetry collection for a friend.

19. Wash your car.

20. Write a sonnet.

21. Write down every single detail of the room you’re in.

22. Make a piñata and give it to a kid.

23. Write goofy haiku.

24. Learn the alphabet in sign language.

25. Dig out CDs you haven’t listened to in a while (assuming you still have a way to listen to CDs).

26. Read a kid’s book out loud.

27. Memorize the “to be or not to be” speech from Hamlet.

28. If you have an art book, flip through it and look at the art.

29. Cover a page in doodles.

30. Type out the numbers one through one million in words.

31. If you have a blog, write a post every hour for 24 hours.

32. Go on a walk through your neighborhood.

33. Read through the “Q” section of the dictionary.

34. Get a coffee can and make ice cream.

35. Record yourself reading something out loud.

36. Take pictures of your elbows.

37. Turn a Styrofoam cup inside-out.

38. Watch a whole season of a TV show. This should not be an issue for many of you.

39. Write a 500-word story.

40. Edit that story down to 100 words.

41. Put together your own magazine.

42. Tie-dye a shirt.

43. Give yourself a haircut.

44. Wash your dog.

45. Fold 1000 paper cranes and make a wish.

46. Write out the lyrics to your favorite album.

47. Make a playlist of your 50 favorite songs of all time.

48. Learn your voice part in the Hallelujah Chorus. If you don’t know what your voice part is, go find out what your vocal range is and proceed from there.

49. Read to a bedridden person. (If you’re reading this during the COVID-19 pandemic, do it through FaceTime or something, don’t be an idiot.)

50. Clean out your hall closets.

51. Ask your grandparents how they met.

52. Fold your laundry, you heathen.

53. Meditate.

54. Secretly do something nice for someone you don’t like.

55. Write your congresspeople.

56. Play scales on your instrument of choice.

57. Draw a tree.

58. Do some yoga.

59. Reorganize your books.

60. Find a new blog and read all their archives.

61. Pick a word, then learn how to say it in 10 languages.

62. Write a review of the last movie you watched.

63. Do the “loves me, loves me not” thing with a daisy.

64. Clean your house from top to bottom.

65. Shave someone else’s head.

66. Get a small child to do your hair.

67. Draw things on your hands.

68. Make homemade skin care products.

69. Go to sporcle.com and see how many games you can beat.

70. Write sentences where each word starts with a consecutive letter of the alphabet (e.g., Aphra Behn came down eating fudge, giggling happily—“I’ll just keep leaving my newspaper open; perhaps Quincy stayed, though upset, very wary (x-rated?), yet zealous.”

71. Have a conversation with one of your old stuffed animals.

72. Write a letter to your future self.

73. Write your will.

74. Do a tasting of the food (or drink) of your choice.

75. Cut up your old t-shirts and do something interesting with the scraps.

76. Call or text everyone whose numbers are in your phone.

77. Go through all your photos.

78. Play checkers with yourself.

79. Remember #11? Go teach someone else how to do it.

80. Stand on a corner with your phone and dance to the music.

81. Try to make a list of everyone you know.

82. Look up all the churches in a 5-mile radius and pray for them.

83. Read a magazine.

84. Have a picnic in your living room or backyard.

85. Call someone and leave a poem on their voicemail.

86. Answer the Pivot questionnaire.

87. Answer the Pivot questionnaire for a fictional character.

88. Draw a self-portrait.

89. Buy all the birthday cards you’ll need for the next year.

90. Clean out your car.

91. Cut out snowflakes.

92. Mail something to yourself.

93. Look up stuff in your public library’s catalog.

94. Look up a show on tvtropes.org.

95. Trade music libraries with a friend or family member for a day.

96. Write your own personal mission statement.

97. Take ten minutes to eat one cookie.

98. Write a thank-you note to your parents (assuming that they weren’t abusive).

99. Write a research paper.

100. Go ye, therefore, and make up your own list of projects.

right now: february 2020

Making: Plans and a lot of dinner/drinks friend dates 🙂

Cooking: I made a thing of mujadara the other night. Been making a lot of stuff in my dutch oven–a lot of chicken soup, but also braising things while it’s still kind of cool outside.

Drinking: All the coffee, lots of HEB brand lime sparkling water, but right now it’s a Diet Pepsi because the Barnes and Noble where I’m writing this doesn’t have water thanks to yesterday’s water main break

Reading: Still doing Keller’s book on prayer. Someone left The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks in the break room at work and I’ve been reading it in bite-sized chunks. I also got Who Shall Ascend the Mountain of the Lord? through interlibrary loan–it’s about Leviticus and it’s actually really awesome, believe it or not. (You know you’re a Bible nerd when a discussion of the chiastic structure of the Torah gets your sparks flying.)

Wanting: The weather to make up it’s friggin mind, GEEZ

Looking: At when I can take some time to get up to Waco and Austin…

Playing: My guitar again–I got it serviced at Guitar Center and it’s in good fighting shape, so I’ve been trying to play it a lot more.

Deciding: Whether or not to go to Austin in a couple of weeks for this

Wishing: My allergies weren’t so bad. (I am, however, one of the last people in my department at work to not get actually sick, so I am praying my immune system keeps up the good work.)

Enjoying: Having a random day off today–thanks to the water breaking the university where I work was closed. I have a couple of things I need to get done for work tomorrow, but it shouldn’t take long.

Waiting: For Easter, on this third day of Lent. And for my car to get fixed–apparently my air conditioner compressor was janky and it’s at the shop right now.

Wondering: What I should cook for next week–I’m trying to be better about meal planning instead of eating out a lot.

Loving: How the weather is right now–70-odd degrees and sunny, it is perfect.

Pondering: Whether or not to get tickets to Hamilton when it comes through.

Considering: Reupholstering these chairs I’ve been hauling around with me forever, and also where I’m going to live after my lease runs out…

Buying: A subscription to StitchFix! I set it up so I get stuff quarterly and I was quite pleased with the first one.

Watching: The Chef Show on Netflix. I have a whole stack of DVDs from the library that I need to watch soon, too.

Hoping: I get stuff done tonight and tomorrow that I need to…

Needing: To do laundry, prep for trivia tomorrow, finish this thing for work, get groceries, vacuum my apartment, change my sheets…all that stuff I need to get done, lol.

Smelling: That good Barnes and Noble bookstore smell…

Wearing: Jeans, black and white plaid shirt, tan flats.

Admiring: The patience of the barista who told me they weren’t making drinks–I can only imagine how many disappointed/angry people she’s had to deal with today, unfortunately

some thoughts on John 4

In John chapter 4, we see Jesus meeting a woman at a well, which hearkens back to some other biblical meetings at wells–Abraham’s servant travels to a far country to find a wife for his master’s son, Isaac, and asks God to give him a sign of a young woman drawing water, who will draw water for him, his men and camels. Jacob runs away from home to a far country where so he can escape his brother Esau, and rolls away the stone covering the well, against the custom of the local sheep herders, to help out his cousin Rachel. And Moses runs away from Egypt to a far country, and rescues Zipporah and her sisters from men blocking their way to the well.

A few things these incidents have in common:

  • The men go away from their own country to other lands. The people they land among are outside the chosen people of Israel, but closely related–Rebekah is Abraham’s niece, Rachel is the daughter of Rebekah’s brother Laban, and Zipporah is a Midianite, also a descendant of Abraham via his concubine Keturah (Genesis 25:2). These women get brought in to the chosen people of God via their husbands.
  • These men find wives at these wells. (In Abraham’s servant’s case, a wife for someone else, of course.)
  • In Jacob and Moses’ cases, they remove the obstacles to the women’s being able to drink from the wells, but also to their being able to care for their sheep.

Back to John 4: Jesus leaves Judea in order to get away from the Pharisees (vv. 1-2) and goes into Samaria, which is not His own homeland; the Samaritans are closely related to the people of Israel but are themselves not considered part of God’s people. Jesus is, in a way, coming to bring this woman into the people of God as His bride, as a member of His church. After her five husbands and the man she’s living with, He is the seventh Man, the One who will give her shalom and give her a place to belong. And His line of questioning to her is Him removing the obstacles and rescuing her from the ones who would prevent her from being able to come and drink from Him, the living water.

Neither Jacob’s well nor the temple mount in Jerusalem are now the Promised Land–the Promised Land is not a place, but a Person, and He sits down in Samaria to bring this woman home. More than that, He sends her out to take the water to the rest of His sheep who are not of Israel’s flock.

And who’s to say that He doesn’t do the same for us?