Thursday, May 28, 2009

a day por status updates

Because I spend way too much time on freaking facebook (I try to do smart things like read and write and make lists, but this is what happens instead), sometimes I think in facebook statuses.

--woke up late the only day this week my boss will see me coming in. got so mad that i said /arrghgh, i'm late anyway/ and fell off the bandwagon and went to starbucks. stupid starbucks.

--wow this danish is good.

--wow again. someone from a partner office of ours called and said they were from the office ''over here in the ghettos.''

--oh that danish. don't throw up don't throw up don't throw up.

--just freed thirteen staples from a jammed stapler. this is why they pay me. i am handy.

--is going home to floss her teeth! no, really.

--just realized she switches points of view in her statuses as often as she does in writing and thought. i wonder if that means she has some sort of dissociative personality disorder. (you see what i did there?)

--is hot. it's wed-humit like santa marta. ay colombia, es verdad que el riesgo es que quieras quedar. cuando vuelvo? sara les dice nos hablamos, nos vemos. espera.

--ahora sara quiere hablar asi. cuidado, va a contestar el telefono y decir ''alo? soy sara. puedo ayudarle?''

--bueno. es que quiero estar en colombia ahorita misma. es que les extraño--a los niños, el bebé, sus tíos y padres y primos y david y su musica y todo todo todo. pare. no mas.

--sara says sorry guys. this is amurrica. we speak english. she will too.

--omg. there is a waterbug three inches long in my office. please someone huge and manly come help me and squish him!! buuuuuuughghgh.

--i think i just got called from one of those call people in india. kinda cool.

--aaaaand, off to the orthodontist. thinking i might be too old for braces, but then i also might be too old for all the twirling i do in skirts.

--holy crap. i feel like my teeth are coming out of the roof of my mouth. i am going to die.

--i have realized that i do in fact see my life flash before my eyes more frequently (say, ten times a day) now that i watch ER so regularly.

--watching a horribly dubbed indian movie (not bollywood) but there's something kind of endearing about it. something about it is perfect.

--conked out on the heater couch.

--sara has a secret. a very exciting one. we'll see in a week. she's freaking out a little bit.

--alicia: "i've come to the conclusion that indians are they inspiration for pop dancing. silly backstreet boys, we had it first."

--and now she is dancing like them.

--so slumdog, dev patel's hands, and probably trying to sing along with jai ho. oh crap i wish i had something witty. no really, i'm going now. night, y'all.

[This is perhaps the reason I won't be getting a twitter account.]

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

summer/or i suck at thinking of titles

Well, this summer has been a surprise, I have to say. Already it's so unexpected. The things I only half hoped for have probably been the best parts so far. And the things which should have come unexpectedly, caught me off guard--the sorts of things one finds out on Facebook--are the exact ones I just kind of knew before they happened. I am surprised because I should have been surprised, but it was like someone told me while I was sleeping and I just woke up knowing what was coming.

And I look at the last two weeks since Rockbridge--has it been that long? But then I feel well into summer already. It sounds weird, but I think I'm going to end up associating being hot and sweaty and icky with boys. All growing up and through high school I spent most of my time with boys. My babysitter had all nephews and I had a brother, so it was always me and them playing in the yard, playing with matchbox cars, up in trees. With the exception of my first best friend, most of my closest friends have been boys--I don't know what it is, but it was always easier with them. I just get on better with them. Less social expectations and more running and jumping and playing outside? I don't know.

But then came college. And there are a fair deal more women than men on this campus. It's particularly evident in InterVarsity, in our chapter, where we've always outnumbered the boys about eight to one. So then came drama, then came all kinds of things I never knew about, but then the relationship is totally different. I'm thinking about my closest friends now, and they're girls and it's so good and I imagine being close to my mom or having had sisters might have been like this. It's having these friends who are girls and you encourage each other, you lead each other to more of Christ, you call each other out when you need to know you get mad at one person and take it out on everyone and that you really need to work on that, and you hold each other when you lose the things neither of you thought you might ever not have. It's good.

With guys--with my friends from State down this summer--well, I don't think about it too much anymore until summer rolls around, but it's like going home being with them. I'm hanging out with the sort of old friend I'll always know until the end of it all, and I'm hanging out with new friends, these crazy boys who are just all boy, it's so refreshing. But they're all also just seeking after God like he's all there ever was. And I can't possibly imagine better company for this part of the summer and here I am leading up to Romania but I'm not counting my days, I'm not living for them. It's now, and I'm so glad for it. The school year is girls, but then May comes along and it gets humid and warm and everything changes and the summer is boys.

And you know, another thing I wasn't expecting at all is that I've managed to end up in an Evangelism class with them. It's so funny. That would happen. For reasons still unknown to me, God really has me here, has me with this. I keep saying it, but who knew? Who would have ever guessed? And here I am, all these familiar things mixed in with the things I hadn't been looking for, and I know that things really do get hard, but I also know that they are good and God is good, and you remember that joy he promised you? In so much more than you might have expected--here it is.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

miami orange, naples blue

I did it again. Ughghghg. Well bleh. What I meant to write was:

The thing I remember most was that book I couldn't put down. We the Living, and even if you're not an Ayn Rand fan (or if you think she's a crazy person), the book is wonderful--all of her stories are kind of the same thing, so if you had to read just one. Anyway, I couldn't stop reading it. It had been sitting next to my bed for about three months and I'd started it but only got about forty pages in before I just sort of quit reading it. But I took it with me, just in case. And around night four of this trip I was one hundred pages from the end and everything in it was going crazy and we were going all around Naples or Miami doing things but I'd get out of the back of the truck still reading it. We went to a beach to take pictures of the sun going down and it was a dark sunset, I remember, really dark orange, everything the sort of color that things turn around a campfire. And I noticed it getting darker, but barely, and I don't think I realized at all when the orange turned into streetlight orange, camera flashes headlights because we were driving down the road and I was trying to hold the sentence I was on in this orange line of light as it slid away, following it across the sleeping as the cars passed. And then I was I crying, quiet, not even sniffling, mouth hung open and face burning and my friend noticed and laughed, and then we were at Dairy Queen sitting at a table outside. My ice cream was melting too fast and I couldn't keep up with it--imagine, ice cream melting outside in December? But then I finished the book, and the ice cream was all over my face and left hand and wrist, mouth probably still hung open. And the light from the store was bright like a warehouse or a stadium, really white, like when you know you're outside but it feels like inside and I sort of wish now that it had been dark and orange, but then that's how it went.

Amy and I talked a lot on that trip. She was the friend, my neighbor, who invited me. Crazy Amy--she's always Crazy Amy in my stories. We talked about boys and family, mostly. She told me about music, I being a woefully uncultured child. Who's Guns N' Roses? And then her mom's boyfriend told me about cleaning the Glock he kept by his pillow in the tent.

But Miami! We were driving there during the day and it was so bright. We went on this tour to see... well I don't remember, now, there were a few small islands and houses with famous people, same thing I think I flew over on the way to Colombia. And I'd borrowed a skirt from her, this short black thing with studs and some shirt that didn't really match and my hair was dark enough that I looked as goth as she was without trying, but it was in sixty two degrees outside and I could think of nothing better to wear. So we were on the tour and I was freezing with the wind blowing off the water but there was a family a few seats up speaking Italian and a father and son in front of me speaking something like Dutch, but I never did know for sure.

And then back in Naples at night, we'd made friends in the hot tub. All the European kids on holiday--all of them speaking English with us--and we just sat around and talked. There was a Jamaican talking about soccer--at first I couldn't tell what on earth he was saying. Sow-kah? And so I repeated it that way, what does that word mean? And everyone laughed and later the three French boys, all with my exact coloring, they could have been my brothers. But then Cote is a French name, I told myself, because that's all I knew then. They were speaking so quickly and I was supposed to start French the next semester and I could say a few words an exchange student had taught me how to say, and then suddenly one of the boys was stopping mid-sentence, does she speak French? Of course not. Sigh of relief.

Who knew we might have been out of place, me with my borrowed bathing suit and the hole in it, Crazy Amy with the underside of her hair shaved. Her mom shouting shut the hell up to who knows from inside the tent, and the international kids probably couldn't have understood it anyway, southern American English a whole adventure unto itself in pronunciation. At any rate, none of that ever occured to me. I just kept listening to the French. To this one little German boy who would speak German with his father, French with the others, and then slow, broken English with us. I'd never experienced anything remotely international, apart from exchange students and my cousin's stories about Russia. And Naples, Miami, these places were international to me.

When we walked around in Miami we stopped at a taco stand and I watched the man taking our order write it down in Spanish as he spoke to us in perfect English. I couldn't understand how that worked at all. And then later we were walking down the street and I don't remember what stopped me but I was looking at something written in Sharpie on the wall of a building and there was Spanish and English and some man came up to me and was suddenly speaking to me in Spanish. And then when I gave him a sort of apologetic look he was surprised a little. You don't speak Spanish? I wished I did, along with French and everything else.

Miami was bright colors. I didn't know the difference between a palm tree and a coconut tree. I thought they were the same thing. It was buildings with orange walls and red terracotta roofs, if I remember. And the lights of some part of the city at night, how they looked over the water from a mall we were in. I don't remember the specifics. I remember the colors and the languages, and the very beginnings of some mess of questions of identity, translated through what am I? Ethnically, I mean. In terms of heritage. All these comments, particularly now, about how I've got a European look about me, and I can see them taking root in Miami and Naples five years ago. I'd never seen anything like those places, both at an entirely different pace and lighting and sound than anything else, even the temperature, so much more mild than North Carolina winter, throwing me.

There went that footing, but it's funny to see the way I still come back to it. These things I care about, am interested in--are they how I am, or are they Florida still under my skin. Would I have cared if someone thought I was Hispanic--more European than indigenous of course--in an airport in Miami this summer if someone else hadn't thought the same thing when I was fifteen? Would I let them think that? It's a whole tangle of things, and I still haven't gotten it figured out.

But there's still that hook in me, invisible line drawing back toward fiesta colors and blue sky, blue tent, blue hot tob, French and Spanish and all the other languages colors themselves. Miami orange, Naples blue. Suddenly not black and white at all.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

didn't you know?

When I went to write about this, about Florida for the first time, I went back to that old online journal I have because I knew I'd written something about it, remembered that I'd put something in there about traveling and linguistics and cool night air on my skin. But I had no idea. I look back at myself at fifteen and sometimes I can hardly believe where I am now. It was late and I was four states away from my whole life, and the only thing connecting me with that world was a decision I shared with a boy, how to walk away. Except his was toward God, and mine was inward or outward, I don't know, it was sensory and palpable it had to do with Naples, Florida, a French boy, and a world that seemed endless and possible.

I grew up in strange hybrid world of indifference and hope, of racism and open mindedness, but not to everything. Of unceasing movement and stagnation, complacency. I was only in Florida because my friend invited me to come with her mom and her mom's boyfriend. It was always like that. I was this kid raised by families who told their daughters they couldn't go to their black friends' birthday parties, but I would never have gotten such a clear picture of family if hadn't been for them. There was life, on the one hand, as it was: poor and misguided, badly held together. But the other one was reaching toward me, offering some way of could and might and promise. Even now, and always, I think of my brother and wonder how I could possibly have been so lucky. And all along, I never even knew to wait for the other shoe to drop. You know, it was just what it was.

Florida was jarring. We felt like we'd woken up. I remember riding in the covered bed of a truck twelve hours down the coast and the mild weather came like morning, the air shocking us alive. Wake up, this city seemed to be saying. Didn't you know? Didn't you know there were all these things you could see and feel and didn't you know about the world, how it's so much bigger than all the things at home that don't go away? I was held, my heart a hook on a line gasping like a caught fish, overwhelmed by something I couldn't name. It felt like an April morning and it was December at night, it was quiet and dark and I still heard the French in my mind, c'est le monde. Did he really say that? He might have--but then I don't understand French, and you shape things by how you understand. And I said I'll take it if you're offering, and does the whole thing feel like this? Suddenly I could spread my arms and take this thing and everything could be new and everything would feel, it would feel this way, senses all at once, like your breath caught short.

And fifteen, what do you know about holding back? You're this tender, shaken thing, and suddenly it's everything at once. But it's only everything in those moments--there wasn't anything waiting for me to go back to, and there wasn't anything to be afraid of leaving, because who's going anywhere? I don't mean understanding or hope--I mean the very small world I occupied filled to bursting with flashes of the moments I would feel four years later in Colombia, that I'll feel leading up to my wedding. The way the air will move a certain way and suddenly I'm fifteen and in Naples and I'm walking alone at night in Wilmington wondering if feeling so strongly is worth it at all, and I'm ten years from now in some moment that will draw a line from then to these moments, and life keeps folding back on itself and stretching toward something new and reaching out to this kid who just kept getting lucky. Who knew?

I know that there is something that imitates heaven in Naples, and I know that it's here as well, and in all the houses I've ever lived in and wanted to leave. I know that something in me wants it so badly that I'm awake at four in the morning writing this and I've got to go to work in four more hours but what's exhaustion anyway, and how is it so different than what feeling overwhelmed is? This comes from The Weight of Glory, but physically, I can only experience things so many ways, and yet the things I might feel are endless. If cool air and lights feel like quickened breath and so does longing, then it only means I was made to desire something, to want it with all of me.

But you're fifteen, you're this skinny kid who never knew the world might be so big. And Naples--Naples was God when you weren't looking, God saying hey, hey. Didn't you know? There's something so much bigger.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


"One thing that's clear in the Scriptures is that the nations do not lead people to peace; rather, people lead the nations to peace."
--Shane Claiborne

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

long time coming

Well, I'm afraid I've been putting this off since Saturday. I had hoped when I left that I'd come back with all kinds of things to write about, and certainly there are things worth writing about, I just don't know what to write about. Rockbridge, as always, was wonderful. It was different this year, though, in ways that made it much more fun and much harder.

There were about 400 students there and I just kept running into people I know--in the first couple of hours I'd probably seen at least twenty friends from other schools. Which is weird for me, being introverted, and definitely not being one of those people who knows everyone. But it was nice to see people I know, and it was nice to feel so much a part of a/the group. Along with that, I feel like I'm so much more comfortable with the people in my chapter than I have been in previous years, just that I know them better and all that, and the whole experience wasn't really awkward like it normally is. So in that sense, it wasn't work like it's been before. It was just relaxing and being with people. And I also had some really great conversations, really got to know a few people better, and of course I love that.

All of that said, Rockbridge was not the, how would you say it, spiritual renewal that it's always been. I was in the coordinating team track which is basically the executive track--we do do a good deal of the coordinating and planning and work together to figure out the vision for our chapter, all of that good stuff.

And so the three of us girls on c-team--we didn't really know each other all that well coming in--spent the week in our tracks working and praying, and let me tell you, it was tough for all of us. We've all had a fair share of misgivings with this, all along the lines of what was I thinking? I don't want to be here (on c-team), I can't do this. For me, as evangelism coordinator--I remember praying about it and thinking how accidental it seemed. Of course it isn't, and God has put me here for some incomprehensible reason, he's put these things in my heart. But me? Of all people, me? It just feels so unlikely. So along with all that I was thinking about how I am one of those people who is much more comfortable following than leading. I'll lead, and do when I feel like I need to, but if there's someone who I think can do it better, then by all means they should. And so, as quiet as I am along with some other things, I really felt like I couldn't do it, that I wasn't a good enough leader, and so on.

The especially hard part about that was that I had to rely fully on God then. Well okay, I don't have a choice because if I don't let him do this, then it will fail. But for some reason it's still hard. We really gave it to him this week, and let me tell you, God is faithful. This past week we'd been praying about our chapter being real (you see this whole theme thing in my life? was I not just writing about that a few weeks ago?). About how we spend so much time together but don't really know each other at all, how there are chapters of 150 (we're about forty) who are closer. And during our chapter time this year, so many people opened up so much. Real stuff, hard stuff, half the chapter crying. It was amazing, and God showed up so much more than we had even thought to ask him, more than we hoped for.

And so I know this, that this full reliance on God is something I've got to keep working at because it's so good and when you really let God work, he really really does. What I'm afraid of doing is relying on him until we get off the ground with all this and then trying to do it on my own strength from there. I'm realizing how much control I like to have over certain things. As an INTP, I'm pretty amenable to most things, pretty chill in that sense, unless it goes against something I feel really strongly about (beliefs, morals, etc.) or--and here's where I'm realizing it--I'm not fully comfortable. I don't have this. I don't know this ground, this leading our chapter to become more missional. And of course I don't have it--it's God's. But I like to get a good hold on things when I don't understand them, I like to have control when I'm not really on solid ground. And even writing this I'm seeing lines draw back to very deep-rooted things in my family, experiences from growing up, from just a few years ago. I understand this (don't misunderstand me to be going psychology major on anyone, but that is a post in and of itself).

But what am I saying? Not on solid ground? Well what is God if not solid ground? I mean, it may not look like it and it certainly may not feel solid, but the end has already been won and God has got me. But letting go to (not just of) that is hard. I have to do this. And really it was never mine to have a hold of--this is God's, he's just using me, and I do want that. Another thing about INTPs: a lot of time spent second guessing ourselves. Which is only logical. For every one side, for every conclusion, it's logical that there could be another. If my neighbor and I are arguing and I think he's being stupid and is just out to get me, then chances are that he feels like I'm stubborn and refusing to understand. There's never just the one side. If I think I'm right--well, it's based on what I know, and what if I've overlooked something, what if there's something I don't know about? I could be wrong. This could fail. Maybe I can't do this.

And there's the catch--it isn't me, it isn't anything I could think through to the conclusion, it isn't anything at all except God. And he isn't fitting into equations, he doesn't have two sides like a coin. He's the the coin and the hands holding it and the resisting air. He's copper and silver and the light shining from 92,960,000 miles away just to reflect it back as it flips toward earth, and he's more than every law by which we understand gravity. Whether it lands on heads or tails or the absolutely arbitrary things those sides might represent--all of it's completely irrelevant. Those things are true, sure, but they have no effect on the outcome. The coin is still made of silver and copper, and it will still fall. And heck, it might even land on it's side, but it will land.

It's God. It's so much bigger than what's going on or whether I need it to land on heads or tails or what makes sense or what might be right and everything about the way I think. It is God, and I just need to let go to that.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Aaaand--one for the road.

"I knew a man in college who grew up in the inner city of Chicago & what he was doing in Iowa I never did figure out. But whenever he would see a jet trailing across the sky, he would stop everything he was doing & he would watch. Once, after a jet was gone & there was nothing left but the white line disappearing like a scar into the blue, he turned to me & said, An airplane is a miracle & I didn't give it much thought, but now & then, when I am ready to give up hope for human beings in general, & for one or two of them who are bugging me specifically, I will look to the sky & there will be one of those miracles & I will remember it's all about concentrating on the right thing."
--Brian Andreas

Saturday, May 9, 2009

a week without sundrop

I'm leaving in the morning for ROCKBRIDGE, baby. Which is this amazing place with amazing food, amazing people, and amazing God. Oh, and amazing worship. It's basically the best place you could go for a week after school gets out, even at the cost of no Sun Drop for a week.

To give you an idea of the week ahead (if you want to skip to around 51 seconds or so, that's when the good stuff starts):

In all seriousness, though. If I can say it, Rockbridge always feels small pieces of what it will be like in heaven. The week is spent focused on God--learning more about him and his word, crazy amazing worship (even in other languages!). And just spending time with other people seeking after him. I feel like I'm in a little bit of a slump lately. Sometimes I'm just so excited about God and other times I'll go all day and it will hardly cross my mind--I've been better about that this last year, it feels like. I know that we're cyclical and I certainly, certainly am, and that's okay. So the points in between the high points have been less... I don't know how to say--the points just aren't as extreme. I'm positive I'll be working at this until the day I die, but consistency is slowly coming. And all that is to say that this week will be good. I'm looking forward to just focusing on God and being with people who also are, people I care about.

And to getting launched to kingdom come again. So if I don't decide never to leave and I survive all the craziness, in a week--

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

and there was much rejoicing

Note: obligatory I AM DONE WITH EXAMS post following.

Hey, guess what, guys? I AM DONE WITH EXAMS!

I could tell you about how glad I am to be done with them. Or I could tell you about this weird bodily ailment I'm having which I noticed while taking said exams. I know lately I've become a bit of a hypochondriac--actually, that's not true, it's more just that I'm interested in and atuned to all the little things going on with my body (which never gets sick [unless I'm trying to skip class, flake that I am]). All this because of ER. (Although, for the record, I'm not all worked up about the Swine Flu.) But I digress. (What's up with me and the parentheses tonight?)

So I was sitting in my Performance of Lit class today waiting to get on stage for my last performance. And let me just say that I am not a performer. Not when people know I'm performing, at least, if that makes sense. I really surprised myself with how uncomfortable I am in front of people I don't know. My hands even shake. I never knew that until I took this class. But anyway, I was waiting to go up and getting more and more nervous, and then I noticed that my fingertips were tingly. Like the way they get when your hand falls asleep.

Well, okay. Most bizarre thing ever. Apparently I was so nervous that my fingertips were falling asleep? I had my arms crossed pretty tightly since I was half panicking and all, so I just figured it was that. Then later when I was walking home from school I felt it again, this time more in the fingers of my left hand and also along the outside of my palm. Now I've also been noticing how much more I lean to the left than I used to, particularly when I walk. I can actually feel it when I walk now, which isn't good at all. I've had problems with my back since I was about fifteen or sixteen and the supposed slight scoliosis (that most people have?) has gotten increasingly worse. To the point where the ribs in my chest/sternum area stick out noticeably more on the right side than the left. So there's rotation and curvature. Unfortunately, I am poor and haven't been able to afford the chiropractor since insurance was paying for it in high school. So I'm thinking I'm pinching a nerve?

Honestly I'm not sure whether that's a relief or not. Of course it's not, but how weird would it be if my fingers fell asleep when I was nervous?

So, more on being done with classes. I've decided to set a goal for myself. A book a week until I leave for Romania. I used to read all the time and then college happened and I never get to anymore, but when I do get around to it I'm a pretty quick reader. But then there's work and hanging out with friends and hopefully writing (not just this stuff but story stuff) and working on the Romanian. I think I'm just trying to decide if a book a week is realistic. On it's own, sure. But then I don't know how much ER is going to get in the way of that. It'll be nice to get back to reading though. I miss it. And I have so many books I want to read--one of my biggest problems with that is I am a re-reader. I think I've read The Kite Runner three times. I keep rereading my favorite books because I love them so much and never get around to reading new ones.

Other random thoughts? I've got a post coming that's been mulling around in my head the last week or so based on something my staffworker said to me about how after people screw up and then redeem themselves in movies and literature, they get killed off or leave. But in real life we have to stick around and face things and deal with them. And some God stuff with all of that. Which hit pretty close to home for me. So just putting up here in the hopes of actually getting it written out.

But really all I'm thinking about now is no homework or exams until August. Don't wish it away, I know. And walking home today I even had a moment where (when?) I was sad thinking about how I wouldn't have any class for a few months (which I very quickly pushed out of my mind--trying to enjoy being done with everything here ;)). I've got another year, and it feels like a big one coming up. But for now I'm just gonna think about now, and let then surprise me when it gets here.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


"The longings which arise in us when we first fall in love, or first think of some foreign country, or first take up some subject that excites us, are longings which no marriage, no travel, no learning, can really satisfy. I am not now speaking of what would be ordinarily called unsuccessful marriages, or holidays, or learned careers. I am speaking of the best possible ones. There was something we grasped at, in that first moment of lonigng, which just fades away in the reality...

If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is hat I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care on the one hand, never to despise, or be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death..."

--C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity