Posted in God, Life

Chasing

I have spent my life chasing. I have been chasing my dreams since I was young. I can feel it like a little flutter inside my stomach. It’s this sort of feeling of my being alive for a purpose…an almost tangible knowledge of destiny.

Any path doesn’t fall within this chase, I will reject it. The chase is the catapult or map that guides my steps.  It’s what gets me through the day. It’s what I live for, what my life is about…the chase. I am chasing a dream.

In the dead of night, I will sometimes wake up, haunted my clocks and calendars. I am not as far as I should be.

Lately, as I have stopped to catch my breath, I have realized I don’t where I am going anymore.  have been chasing so long, I don’t remember what I am chasing. What is this chase about?

Posted in Life

The Nomad’s Guide to Moving

In my elementary school word history class, we studied nomads. We learned that they lived in a place for a short time, and then packed up and moved when they got tired of it. I thought this was wonderful. A lifestyle of impermanence, not tied to anyone or anything. Free to blow in the wind…I had no idea my life would turn out that way.

I have lived in about thirty places. It may be more. I sat down and made a list one day, and arrived at twenty-seven. I have long since lost the list, and moved a handful of times since then. There are different reasons for each move. Money, different jobs, bigger/smaller/better place…all of the standard reasons…

But, in these years, I have become an expert mover. I can complete the task in a day…within a few day’s notice. I can quickly prattle off the top priority phone calls that must be made…electric, cable/internet, water…

I also know a number of handy moving tips and tricks. So, here it is, how to move nomad style. Notice I don’t use all of the proper moving advice you find on Internet moving checklists. I honestly don’t know who moves like that. I’ve never moved by the books and always get there just fine…and a lot cheaper.

  • If you go to Wal-Mart after 11pm, the stockers are in full shift. They will gladly let you take any of their freshly emptied boxes off their hands for free. They’re just going to shred/incinerate them anyway.
  • When you pack, include a small suitcase with two-three days worth of clothing and toiletries. On moving day, NEVER lose track of it. Keep it with you like a purse, and bring it over with the final load. There’s nothing like showering after a long, exhausting move, and having to unbury boxes to find clean underwear.
  • Toilet paper should go hand in hand with the keys. The day you get the keys the new place, install a roll in each bathroom. Leave TP in the old house until the day you surrender the keys. (Or, simply leave it as a donation to whomever may follow).
  • Leave an arsenal of cleaning supplies around until the absolute last load…the day you surrender the keys and grab the toilet paper. This is especially important if you’re aiming to get a deposit back.
  • MAXIMIZE the space. Whether you’re using a U-Haul or a caravan of SUV’s, if every single vehicle on your property doesn’t look like a final round of Tetris, you’re wasting trips–which equal time and gas.
  • On moving day, the first load should include: paper towels, case of bottled water, and trash can or hanging trash bag. (A stock of these things should remain in the old house as well). You will also need to buy disposable paper goods right off. You will probably eat out the first few meals, but it still may be a day or two before you can get your dishes unpacked and settled. And, even then, who knows where to find the dish cleaning supplies?!
  • Don’t split hairs trying to notify everyone who sends you mail of your new address. If you need to ensure timely receipt of materials like checks, by all means, notify the sender. But, generally, a postal forwarding request is all you need, and this can be quickly filed online. From there, all of your mail will be forwarded to you for several months. All of your magazines, bank statements, catalogs, etc. will receive an address notification from the post office and they will update their records accordingly.
  • For less expensive glass, skip paying for bubble wrap. Go to your local grocery store, and grab several handfuls of those free newspapers in the lobby. Not the daily newspaper. I’m referencing those local publications devoted entirely to classifieds. It’s where people sold their ten-inch rims and twenty-year old cars before Craigslist. Those papers still exist, they’re absolutely free, and no one ever reads them. But, they are great for stuffing mugs and vases and wrapping plates and knick-knacks.

Tomorrow, I move on. It’s been almost a year since my last move, and my memory has failed me a bit. So stay tuned in the next few days, for the Nomad’s Guide to Moving Volume 2.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Life

It’s Not That Bad (And Other Lies You Tell Yourself)

Stress. It’s that generational buzzword we broadly attribute to all manner of facing complexities in the first-world. We have a great reverence for stress.  We wear it almost like a badge of honor. “I am stressed, therefore I must somehow be important.”

Once we have diagnosed ourselves as “stressed,” we can tap into a vast network of “coping mechanisms” to handle said stress. Solutions range from the healthy–exercise, meditation, going out with friends, watching television, to the unhealthy–drinking, drugs, avoidance, overeating, violence, etc. Any modern American knows these well.

But, the problem with these coping mechanisms, is that that is all they are–a means to cope. So, you are sitting in the movie theater with your five best friends, watching a really funny movie and you can almost physically feel the tension leaving your body like a deflating balloon. You sit in the dark, and you think, “You know, it’s not that bad. Sometimes, life is just life. I’m taking myself too seriously.” And you laugh at all the funny parts, and you let it go.

Or, you read one of those great motivational books that we are so good at writing in our culture, and we all get pumped up. “Life is all a matter of perspective,” you say. “I am in charge of my own destiny. I will conquer.”

You float around all night on a cloud of happiness. You wake up in the morning and lazily stretch and rise, waltzing around like Cinderella humming through her morning ablutions…when suddenly…BAM! Reality hits.

It wasn’t just an overreaction. It wasn’t just you taking yourself too seriously. This isn’t in your head. The problems are real. And big. And you have no idea how to fix them.

The night before fades away, and by lunchtime you are a basket case again. You stare at your club sandwich paralyzed, and totally overwhelmed with anxiety. Then someone comes along and gives you the sweetest little pep talk. And, it lifts your spirits…until…

Stress. No amount of positive thinking, motivational speaking, or aromatherapy candles can fix the things we can’t control. It can just give us the gusto to face them for a short while.

And then what? And what good does that do?

Posted in Life

The Cliche Girl

Today I’ve been thinking about cliche girls. I missed that class in junior high, I guess. Because I’m just not cliche.

I don’t really like chocolate. I’ll enjoy a candy bar once in a while, but I’ve never understood the propensity to go gaga over chocolate.

I hate Chipotle. I prefer real Mexican food instead.

I try not to eat a lot of trash, but I’m not really into health food. I don’t care where it’s grown,  or how it’s fed or raised.  As a matter of fact, I don’t even really care about food.

To me, food is like taking a shower. You do it regularly because you have to, and it can be enjoyable, but it’s really not that big of a deal. I hate Diet Coke, or anything marketed as diet or low calorie. If you’re going to eat it, man up and eat it. If you’re not, then don’t.

I like Starbucks because it’s a good place to write, but honestly, I could take or leave their drinks. Sure, I like some coffee with my creamer, but I don’t know actually know what an espresso or cappuccino are.

I go to the gym because the physiological response to a workout boosts my creativity and helps with my writing. I’m not secretly there to meet guys or be in some sort of trendy yoga clique.

I haven’t really owned a television in over ten years. Sure, there have been a couple of months here or there that I have had one. But, I got rid of it for some reason or another, and I didn’t really notice. As such, I’ve never watched an episode of Dancing with The Stars, American Idol, the Bachelor, and I absolutely refuse to acknowledge The Kardashians.

I read Cosmo the way some people go to the zoo. “Really? Is this how Normal Humans behave? Interesting.” I watched Sex and the City for the same reason.

I’ve never posted a selfie, made the “duck-face,” on MySpace, or owned any high-end clothing/accessories. I wear make-up on occasion, but it’s not what makes my world spin.

I have a few pairs of high heels, but I prefer flip-flops and have never owned Ugg boots. My eyes glaze over if you talk about fashion, I’d prefer to talk about philosophy instead.

I’m just not a cliche girl.  Is there anything wrong with that?

Posted in God, Life

The Power of Music

Son can you play me a memory. I’m not really sure how it goes…

Some people measure their lives in photographs. I measure mine in music. I’m a sentimentalist, but not much of photographer. I don’t have photos on my desk or walls. I have to remind myself to take photos at opportune moments, telling myself that I will appreciate them in five years.

Instead, entire periods of my life are eternally captured in three minute audio files. I can put on a song, and instantly I am transported to that moment, or that time in my life. The sights, smells, people and emotions comes flooding back like a video in my head. That home, that roommate, that trip, those people…they all come to life in my head. It works the reverse too. At any given point in my life, I can hear a song, and without warning, my soul takes a photograph. Many times, I won’t even know why.

I should have been a musician.

Over the years, I have learned to pay attention to the music. I have learned the music will unravel things in my heart and head that I didn’t even know were there. Most of all, I have learned to find God in music.

In the quiet, still of a prayer meeting, as the worship softly meanders and the worshippers sway, I can’t hear God. I can only hear my stomach, or the ache in my legs from standing, or I feel the heavy weight of my eyelids. I wonder about the artwork on the wall, or what kind of life the worship leader has. What kind of car does she drive? What’s his home life like? Standing there, with a microphone, and perfect hair, she looks so together. Is she really like that? By the time I am finished my pondering, the worship is over and the next portion of the service begins.

But, when I am alone, the music and guitars blare at “eleven,” (or as loud as my iPod can go) I can very clearly hear the still, small voice of God. It is unraveled in the raw emotive power of music, and the honest, human lyrics. Sometimes the lyrics are Christian. Sometimes they are inspirational Jesus pop songs, or the poetic prayers of saints set to music. Sometimes they aren’t. Sometimes the music is about things we don’t speak about in church, or contains those naughty words that we don’t mention in polite company. It doesn’t matter. My mind clears and everything begins to make sense. Whatever problem I am confronting, suddenly becomes perfectly clear.

It’s a thing between me and God. It’s always been that way.

Posted in Writing

A Bit on Writing and Life

Some days I love my work.  My fingers fly across the keyboard like they were born for this moment. Other days, I drag myself out of bed somewhere around 11 am, mechanically pour the coffee, and then walk the ten feet to my office to churn out crap that makes me wonder if I should just give it up and call my old temp agency. Maybe they would let me answer phones again.

I pull up the website, and just the sight of their logo makes my stomach turn to rocks. I browse Craigslist and think about writing music reviews for thirty cents a pop. I sigh, and think about Anne Lammott. Someone once asked her why she became a writer. She said, “Because I love it, I’m good at it, and aside from it, I am completely unemployable.” I love that response. My sentiments exactly.

Now firmly reassured that I have no other choice, I pull up the file. I think about the day my protagonist entered the burger joint with the band. He feels very uncomfortable in this moment, and rightly so. He has no idea why life has taken him to this point. He is starting to wonder what it would take to extricate himself from the life he has unwittingly created…..

And slowly the words start to come. And maybe they’re crap. But, slowly I start to see some hope. And then, like a train building momentum, suddenly I am off…

I think life is a bit like this. You start with what you are given, and work to achieve something close to what you see in your head. Each day, you rise, and chip away bit by bit at your dream. Some days large chunks fall off, and you can see something shaping. Other days, you fall into bed, sweaty and exhausted, not having broken off so much as a sliver toward the life you are trying to achieve.

Some curl up and die in their heads. Others find other projects ones that are less taxing and easier to achieve. But, if you’re smart, you keep chipping away, believing that one day, this masterpiece will shape into something beautiful…