Sunday, June 29, 2008

Just Thought I'd Share

The thing about any kind of review (books, music, movies, etc.) is that it really means nothing without context. If this one person says a movie is great, that is next to useless to me if I have no idea what else the person usually thinks is great. We have a pretty huge Jane Austen fan base at my church (and probably at everyone else's). When the Jane Austen fan base recommends other non-Jane Austen books or BBC miniseries to me (because the same 6 novels again and again gets old), I know I can trust them, because we all like the same types of things. And these guys are finding all kinds of things at the St. Louis County Libraries! Unfortunately for me, the St. Louis County Libraries are soon to be out of my reach. Anyway, that is really just an example. What I'm after here is good movie recommendations. Tonight, George and I just kind of want to have a movie night. But we never know what to rent. Last time we rented something, it was either The Other Boleyn Girl or Semi-Pro. We have rented both recently. And well, really, what were we thinking? Actually, The Other Boleyn Girl was okay. I can't really remember. I like historical movies, as long as there is a girl in them. Well, except there really aren't any girls in Horatio Hornblower or Master and Commander and I like them a lot anyway. They make me want to read history. Of course, I never do. But still, they are interesting. And I always find myself really very grateful that God put me in this point in time, even in spite of beautiful costumes and "Hollywoodified" stories.

But Semi-Pro? I mean, y'all! It has always been easy for me to forget or even ignore the really raunchy side of SNL type movies. We all know that Adam Sandler movies would be way better without the gross out humor and his ridiculous appeal to Jr. high aged boys' libido, but we love him anyway. Or I do. Well mostly, I love Spanglish Adam Sandler, Wedding Singer and 50 First Dates Adam Sandler, and that's about it. He's obviously a really nice guy though, but also, well, perverted. But see, Will Ferrell is Elf. And he's Harold Crick in one of the best movies ever, Stranger Than Fiction. Okay, so he's also Ron Burgundy and Mugatu, but Ron Burgundy and Mugatu is still funny stuff. Less funny takes us in to Ricky Bobby territory, and I guess I should have known from Big Earl and Chazz Reinhold (is anyone still with me anymore?), and even just regular appearances on Conan O'Brien, that he is more of an Adam Sandler guy than I give him credit for. But Semi-Pro was just way over the line in so many places, and not funny in the rest. George already posted about this movie in particular, so sorry for the repeat if you are a Pegger (not anymore, you're not! mwa ha ha ha!) But I think we might need to grow out of some of our old habits, like renting our favorite SNL alums' movies.

I was talking to my friend Sonja the other day and she was talking about seeing this terrible movie with "that blond comedian guy" in it. And I was like "Owen Wilson?" And she didn't think so. So she said, "you know, he's kind of cute like Matthew McConaughey, but he has an unusual nose." "Owen Wilson?" No, she didn't think so. He was in this dreadful movie about these guys that go to weddings... Right, Owen Wilson. And I'm like, how awesome is it that she doesn't even know who he is? Although, she is missing some really awesome comedy. Anyway, I kind of feel like, as a grown up, I probably should be a little more horrified by The Wedding Crashers. Or at least I should lose a little of my adoration for Owen Wilson (But I love that guy! "Hansel. He's so hot right now!") And the thing about this post is that I think most of you are probably either completely unfamiliar with everything I am talking about or don't have any affection for any of these guys.

Anyway, it's a dilemma all around. If sometimes Owen Wilson and Adam Sandler and Will Ferrell are excellent, but usually they are really gross, how do you know? I think maybe you just do. Meet Chuck and Larry?! Yeah, you kind of just knew that was going to be bad. Reign on Me? See, probably not going to reel Don Cheadle in with gross out humor. We just need to be more discerning.

Now I've solved the problem though and I don't need you people. Just kidding! Not that most of you are still out there anyway. Or are you....? Anyway, movie recommendations are always welcome here. Even if it's a post about grocery shopping, let me know when you see a really great flick. Of course, the thing about a great movie is that it is noticeably better than other ordinary movies. And how often does that happen? Well, just know that you can trust me to let you know when it happens to me. In the meantime, I am also working on a really fun new running mix. It had me breaking the 10 minute mile barrier yesterday! Okay, so for most of you that might not be hard to do, but I did 5 in 50 minutes! And I was darn proud of myself. Even if I do weigh like 400 pounds or something. (Slight exaggeration there, but you didn't really think I was going to tell you how much I weigh did you?! I've been lying about that since I was 10!) I will post the play list when I get it together. Just a little teaser? Well, okay, since you asked. Abba. Bowie. Dylan. Queen. Yeah, I know! It's totally bizarre! And retro huh? But I dig it.

So this post is sort of a weird insight into my strange tastes. Now you know whether or not you can trust my reviews in the future. What are y'all's faves? I gotta know if I can trust your reviews in the future too!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Channeling Navin R. Johnson. Again?

If you asked me what I was up to any day this week, I would have said "cleaning." And yet, my house is a total wreck. The funny thing about cleaning when you're trying to move is that you are constantly messing things up again, pulling things out of closets and drawers to pack, but not packing everything so there is stuff to put away again. Then, there is the little trail of dust and dirt that inevitably pours off every shelf and out of every cubby from behind where the stuff you are packing was. Then, there's the projects. I think I have mentioned these. "Well, I can't very well pack Annie Mae's tablecloth without pressing it, and I can't very well pack the silver without polishing it, and I can't very well pack this fabric without making something intricate and elaborate with it first!" Seriously. All of the mending, all of the sewing projects, all of the sorting and organizing that I have just put off and put off and put off, in my mind anyway, can no longer be put off. It is a little overwhelming to tell you the truth. So, a word to the wise, sew that button on now before another button falls off another shirt, and then another shirt, and then another, until you realize that you will have to spend an hour putting buttons on shirts just so that you can wash them, dry them, iron them, and pack them to go sit in a POD for an indefinite amount of time while you live at your parents house. "It's an old story, one you've probably heard before. But I never thought it would happen to me."

That last part just sort of typed itself, and I thought "this is all very deja vu!" So I did a little blog search and found this post. Evidently, moving makes me start quoting The Jerk. (Also, looking for fall signs). But honestly, what event in life doesn't prompt one to belt out the "Thermos song?" If there's is such an event, I'd like to see it! Well, maybe my sister's-in-law upcoming wedding. Probably shouldn't sing the "Thermos Song" then. But, that just gave me a good idea for a shower gift! And that also prompts me to recycle this link, just in case you missed it last time (you'll have to click the play button). What can I say? I am easily amused. But if you are even a little bit of a The Jerk fan, you probably will be too. Cures summer SAD right away! (Sara Camp, why did we not have access to this mix in high school?!)

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Well, Owl Be!

I put that up there as sort of a cute little homophonic play on "I'll be," but the more I hear it inside my head, the more it sounds like a play on "Abby." So, not sure how y'all read that. Or if you read it. Who reads headlines anyway? But yes, this is a post about owls. And first of all, I want to ask if anyone knows the deal with winking owls. Do they symbolize something? Why are they winking? There is no information on Wikipedia about this, and after Wikipedia leaves me high and dry, I really don't know where to turn. Anyway, I have an owl necklace that was my Nannie's. I am sure someone gave it to her, and I really can't remember her ever wearing it, but nonetheless, it was hers, and I have next to nothing of hers so I want to hang on to it. And it is starting to break, so I am looking for a new owl necklace as I have grown accustomed to wearing an owl. But that is not really the point of this paragraph, the point is that the owl from the necklace is winking. And in my search for new owl necklaces, I have found quite a few that wink. And there are winking owls all over the place, really. But what does it mean? George says other animals do not wink, so that is why a winking owl is cool, but it doesn't really mean anything in particular. Any other stabs at it?

Okay, so now the point of this paragraph is to talk about hunting for a new necklace. Who knew that typing in "owl necklace" on Etsy would turn up 48 pages of results?! So I have some pictures of ones I kinda like. Any fans?

The first one is just kind of a little $7 cutie brown and pink one. It's not really very me, but I think it is fun, and representational of a few of the things I found. The second one is glass. I am not sure how they make these things even when they explain it, but I thought it was cute. She (and pretty much everyone else) actually had a lot of owls, but this one was the most versatile. A lot of the other ones have a heavy dose of orange or green in them. This third one is engraved on nickel, I think. I think it's sort of pretty, especially for $7. There are so many interesting ones. But I think I just can't find the one for me.

Oh, and I found this last little dude on ebay. He is funny, don't you think? He is Danish pewter, for what that's worth. He is the most similar to the one I have from the pictures on here. Most of the Etsy ones had owls on them, but were not actually a shape of an owl. So that's what I've spent my evening doing. Good times! But I told you I'd get something up for you soon, and this is what I came up with. I need a necklace, y'all. George actually got me one a while back, but we think Elspeth must have played with it. Long story short, we can't find it. It was a CZ. George was very proud of getting me a CZ. I never lie to anyone if I can help it, so if someone so much as said "that's pretty," I found myself blurting out "it's not real!" Which is sort of weird to always be pointing out, don't you think? Yeah, so if I find the CZ, hurray! But I don't think I will replace it if it has been swallowed or thrown out. I guess I will just have to keep looking out for something else. Once again, not award winning blogging, but something to read, nonetheless.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

For Those Who Are Concerned

Sorry if I have left you all to assume the worst, that I am wasting away with summer SAD and have shut myself into a cold dark room where I watch Christmas movies into the wee hours of the morning. That sounds nice though. Anyway, I actually have been truckin' along. And then I sort of flipped out today. But not about summer, about our "transition," and not so that anyone knew. Except that now everyone will know because I am posting about it. And my friend Rebekah knew because I sent her an email where I just sort of went through all the possible scenarios and explained how all of them were wretched.

I appreciated so much how everyone commented on the last post. So much understanding and sympathy! Thanks, y'all! I love how everyone reminds me of our upcoming transition, a little freedom in that- "It's okay to completely wig out.... you're transitioning!" It's pretty helpful. I need to be given that wiggle room, that liberty to just have a bad day (or even a bad summer). But I am amused by the use of the word "transition." Because doesn't usually transition imply transitioning into something? You know, a transitive verb is one that does action to something, and a Transformer is something that transforms from a car into a robot, a transaction is when money is taken from one place and put into another, and a tranny is, well, we all know what a tranny is. But I am not transitioning into anything. I mean, of course I know the spirit of what y'all are saying. I can't even think of a word to use instead. I just feel, just for the record, like it is worse than transition. I mean, we expected transition. We did not expect homelessness and unemployment. But I do know what y'all mean. And I appreciate the kind words. I am just whining. And I'm done now.

On the up side, I am plenty busy. And that helps a lot. I think having the third child has pushed me over into the realm of not much free time as far as the household goes. And then, with that two hours I manipulate out of every day to drive to the Y, exercise for an hour (plus stretching, warming up, and cooling down), and drive home, there isn't so much time on my hands. And the time that is on my hands is going to things like packing and finishing boring projects that should have been finished a long time ago and must be finished before we move(you know, like washing and pressing all the linens from George's graduation party last month, cleaning the upholstery on the couch, vacuuming the cars out, polishing the silver, etc.). Plus, I'm starting to do the most fun thing, carefully planning meals so that we use up everything in the pantry and freezer! Y'all know what I'm talking about! It is a pain in the butt, but it's kind of fun. Well, food and organization, two things I'm good with and like, you know, it is a good time! It's always fun to combine random things and come up with a new recipe. So far I have just been doing easy things like substituting ranch dressing for mayonnaise and red wine vinegar for balsamic, but it should get more interesting here in another week or so.

But see, this is why I haven't been posting. Because this is my life right now. We're moving and doing the mundane things that go with that. And, for all you practical people, you'll be glad to know, we are working quite hard now on our "Plan B." In some ways, it seems a little late, but in other ways, everything we can think of is so utterly impossible and depressing that I am glad we haven't been thinking about it and working ourselves into hopelessness before absolutely necessary. Anyway, none of this is award winning blog material. But when have I ever written that? Honestly! Well, maybe I'll get another post out before another week rolls by. We have outings this week, so maybe those will provide a humorous anecdote or two. Or, maybe I'll share my new iPod play list. You never know! Get excited!

Oh! Oh! I do have to say, because I just mentioned my iPod, that I am loving me this new Cure song! All of the sudden, I just started hearing this Cure song on the radio that I had never heard before! And I just feel like I'm 16 and riding around in my little green Volvo with the sun roof cranked open all over again. I truly do. Thank you, Robert Smith, uh thank you! (But dude, aren't you over that makeup and hair yet?) Oh, and incidentally, this may not be the um, shall we say, most wholesome song. Yeah, so, I do realize that. But it is catchy, and Cure-y (well, which is sort of not very wholesome to begin with, but you don't really notice that so much when you're an extremely naive teen aged girl) so I like it anyway. Maybe just don't dwell on the lyrics... You know, that's just my disclaimer for those of you who might be a little shocked. (See Rach, always thinkin' of ya! Ha ha!)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A New Countdown Begins

Because I am constantly repeating our story and every new little piece of news over the phone, through emails, at church, and in the neighborhood, I think I forget that I haven't explained everything on the blog. So just to catch y'all up, we got a two week extension on our lease a little while ago; what a blessing! But it is the final word. So our move out date is one month from today, July 15. That's all she wrote. No more seminary housing. (But until then, Renae, feel free to call me in a pinch!) There are still some job possibilities out there for George, but the likelihood that he will be interviewed, offered a job, and we will have a new home to move into in one month's time is a little slim, especially considering that he has been looking for a job for something like eight months. So we are still thinking we will probably pack everything into a POD again, which is all very deja vu. I still don't like the question about what we will do if that happens and we still don't have any real promising leads (churches really pursuing George), but I will admit to beginning to wonder that myself. Nonetheless, all that line of questioning does is cause me to doubt either my God, my husband, or both; and seeing as how I have absolutely no control of the situation, I am just going to hang out, pack some stuff up, and wait. It is quite possible that we will have some interviews lined up in the next month. George is talking to lots of people in lots of places, so surely one of them will be part of a church that could use his gifts.

In other news, nothing. I think I have said before that every year I get a serious case of the summer blues. I can understand why more people get the winter blues. It makes sense. And yet, I think I make it worse on myself because not only do I just get real low and out of whack when summer comes, but that really bothers me. It's like I can't stand to be not cheerful. Some people are just in a bad mood and they're just in a bad mood. But I am like frantically trying to get out of the bad mood and feeling like there must be something fundamentally wrong with me to be in the bad mood in the first place. The summer blues is weird, right? It is supposedly only affects 1% of the population. On the other hand, I don't quite feel that I have out and out SAD (seasonal affective disorder) that the one percent refers to. Mostly, I just can't stand how everything shuts down. I need a routine. And I am terrible at making one myself. I need a reason to get up and go. Otherwise, I will not. Seriously. I will stay up until three in the morning and then I will sleep until eleven. And yep, that's with three kids. They say it may have something to do with the increased amount of sunlight and with the heat. I am definitely a wimp when it comes to heat, but I just think of it more like where the sun is in the sky. It is hard to explain. I love me a sunny winter day or a sunny fall day. But I get such a lonely feeling thinking of sunny summer days.

I did a little research and I felt so bad for the people on the internet who posted about this on message boards. There was always some normal person completely unable to see the person's point of view. They would jump to conclusions that that person was lazy or antisocial because most people think summer means vacations and outdoor activities and hanging out with friends. But for whatever reason, it never feels that way to me. I always loved school, loved seeing my friends every day, loved running on a team, loved having somewhere to be. But summer pulls all that out from under you. You're on your own, man. So anyway, that's why it's rough- every stinkin' year since the summer after eighth grade (I am pretty sure that's when it started. And to be fair, it truly was a miserable summer). I always know it's coming. And I think of all the things I'll do to keep busy and make my routine so that I won't get down. But it just feels different, even in hindsight. I can remember even a really fun day in the summer and it will just sort of have a miserable summer haze over it. But I can remember a perfectly wretched winter day and even kind of romanticize it, because hey, it was snowing!

Well, this was kind of a downer, or awkward at the very least. Sorry, guys! I just don't have much to report. And despite my confessions of a Reverse SAD sufferer, I am doing alright. It's eleven o'clock now and I feel like I am just getting going (or cheerful for the first time today)! But because I want to get going before eleven o'clock tomorrow morning, I am going to try to go on to bed. Hope you are all enjoying your time at the pool, fun in the sun and all that. But if I weren't fixing to move, I might be ready to get out my leaf dishes or even the Christmas lights! Only 107 days left until October! Woohoo!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Cleaning up my act

So obviously, I've done a little maintenance. My "power month" is over, so I felt that my "power color" (tangerine) was no longer needed. I am not even remotely superstitious, by the way, but I am kind of playful (in case you didn't notice) so I think things like that are funny. But that joke isn't funny anymore. (Sorry if that gets the song stuck in your head- only old Smiths fans will even know what I'm talking about. Everyone else, move along.) And you may have noticed that I chopped down all my links. Most people almost never post on their blogs. Lots of people, when they do post on their blogs, are mostly sharing pictures and events in their lives, which is fun if you know them, but maybe not if you don't. So I figured most of my links were for my own personal reference anyway, and seeing as how I have a tool bar like everyone else, I can just store them there. I'm going for a less cluttered look, you see. But if you regularly used my links and are now lost without them, let me know. I did leave my shopping links though. Because I know that at least some of y'all use them and like them. And because I often hear myself saying, "Oh, I have the link to that on my blog," when someone asks me where to get something. And I like to support places that have done me right.

Speaking of places doing me right, did you know that Ebay no longer allows sellers to leave negative feedback for buyers? This is a fantastic thing! I mean, seriously, I was just at 3 strikes with ebay. And I had absolutely decided that they were out. And then they went and did something like this... and totally redeemed themselves! Because you know what used to happen was that the sellers would hold your feedback hostage until you got the item and gave them positive feedback. So if they took their sweet time to send it, or if they charged you $10 to ship a cotton baby's dress, or if they completely neglected to mention a huge mustard stain or rip (both of which actually happened to me), you had better think long and hard about leaving negative or even neutral feedback because they will certainly have no qualms about leaving you a big red minus sign in retaliation (this also actually happened to me before). But now, they can't leave negative feedback for paying buyers. And I say a big "HOORAY!" for that. Because there is entirely too much seller protection on ebay and almost no buyer protection. Until now. And so it is a new inning and they are back at no strikes. (Also because the outfit I bought for Amabel that never arrived was taken to dispute proceedings and the seller was found to be fraudulent and I got all my money back, as was right.)

Anyway, our big move is swiftly approaching. So maybe when I settle in, I'll have a church link for you and all new blogs to introduce you to. Maybe. I mean, we're still heading nowhere fast right now. I'm getting excited about the transition though. Because we're really headed somewhere, we just don't know where. Of course I'll keep you posted. Pun intended. I am such a dork! Thanks for coming by!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

As Promised, 59 Things You Never Wanted To Know

1. What is your middle name? Abigail. I go by the nickname for my middle name. Never do this to a child. It is annoying. Because the minute I tell someone my middle name is Abigail, I wait for it to sink in, then watch as the person gets a confused look and says "Wait, your name is Abby Abigail?" Well, some people aren't quite so confusable as all that. But the worst is that doctors offices, waiters who think they're being clever, and everyone else that has any sort of card or identification for me calls me Mary. And that's just annoying. Mary is a lovely name, but I am so not a Mary. Mary Abigail though, why didn't the folks just go all in and call me Mary Abigail? It's so charmingly Harpeth Hall, or for people who don't know Nashville, so Old Southern money sounding. (Harpeth Hall is an all girls school in Nashville where Amy Grant, Reese Witherspoon, and lots of Mary something or others went to high school. They wear cute little tiny plaid uniform skirts and saddle shoes. There is a side of me can't help but think it would've been pretty cool, or at the very least interesting, to go to school there.)

2. How big is your bed? Queen.

3. What are you listening to right now? The sound of the dryer. And lovely silence.

4. What are the last four digits on your cellphone number? I really never can be sure, but I think they are 7530.

5. What was the last thing you ate? A cookie and a scoop of vanilla ice cream at my friend Sonja's house.

6. Last person you hugged? August. I think. All three children when I put them to bed tonight.

7. How is the weather right now? Lovely. It is a nice cool night.

8. Who was the last person you talked to on the phone? Georgie. He's out of town.

9. The first thing you notice about the opposite sex? Wedding band or not. I always feel better if I am dealing with someone else with a wedding band. Is this weird? I think it is because for 22 years, I pretty much just flirted with the opposite sex. Not in a really yucky way, just in a silly, immature way. When flirtation was no longer acceptable, I just sort of quit talking to them altogether, except when absolutely necessary, which is more often than ya think. But if they have a wedding band, I know that they will not perceive whatever I say or do as flirtation. Okay, this is quirky I'm sure. It all comes from having a dad who doesn't talk and no brothers. Or that's my excuse anyway.

10. Favorite type of food? Dessert? Or maybe Mexican, but that's what Laura said so I'm trying to be original. I also love seafood, but am a little wary of it away from the beach.

11. Do you want children? Have three. Am ready for number four. Have no insurance. Will be waiting for number four until future is secure. Still think fondly of possibility of number five. Will have to wait until they cut me open to see what they say about the possibility of stitching me up and cutting me back open at a later date. Ah, the joys of c-sections.

12. Hair color? Brown. Increasingly so. Would you believe I was as blond as Amabel as a child?

13. Do you wear contacts? No.

14. Favorite holiday? Christmas. Who are the people who pick something other than Christmas?

15. Favorite season? Fall. From October right on through December. Exponentially better than any other part of the year. It makes me a little sad that so much delightful goodness (yep, delightful goodness) is crammed into three short months. Except during those three months. But like right now heading into yucky, hot summer, ugh, I could really use a pumpkin.

16. Have you ever cried over a love lost? If you have to ask, then you really don't know me at all. Even have you ever cried over an earring lost or a dollar lost is a little bit of a no brainer dontcha think?

17. Last movie you watched? The Family Stone. I watched it four times last week. Man, I just love that flick! (And FX for showing it four times in three days!)

18. What books are you reading? Middlemarch by George Eliot. And I'm still working my way through Henri Nouwen's The Inner Voice of Love.

19. Piercings? Just regular, one hole in each ear. Another pretty easy one to guess. I've never even sort of considered more.

20. Favorite movie? Hmmm, there are so many. I love me some really well done ones that are hard to watch like Moulin Rouge and Life is Beautiful and Big Fish. But they are too tragic for frequent viewing. So I stick with Jane Austen films. And lately, The Family Stone.

21. Favorite college football team? Auburn Tigers!

22. What were you doing before filling this out? Putting the kids to bed, pouring me a nice big whiskey and coke, and calling my husband who, strangely enough, was also having a drink (not sure what though).

23. Favorite animal? Not such an animally person, really. I mean, they're fine, but I never was gonna be a zoo keeper or anything. I did decide at like 9 that I must one day have a chinchilla. I no longer feel this way. But I do hope we will have a dog one day. And as far as the zoo goes, I guess big cats intrigue me the most. Because there are so many different kinds of them. And because they're like my cat, only bigger, and isn't that kind of weird?

24. Favorite drink? Always gonna be a Coca Cola girl. And it's hard to beat Toomer's lemonade. Though you might could improve it with whiskey. Or at least that's true of coke :)

25. Favorite flower? Hydrangeas. But it's hard not to favor a lily of the valley or a peony this time of year. And in a few months, the sunflowers will be huge. I could go on and on. Flowers are one thing I always splurge on.

26. Have you ever loved someone? What kind of question is that? Seriously. I assume it means someone of the opposite sex? So no.

27. Just kidding! But other than the obvious, George, I plead the fifth.

28. Who would you like to see right now? The sandman. Actually, that is some really scary Hoffman story isn't it? I just mean I want to go to bed. But I would be pretty fired up if Bono walked in. Or anyone really. I so miss the days of late nights in the dorm or a house full of girls. And tonight, I miss Georgie. But he's having a good time, so I won't wish him home.

29. What color are your bedroom walls? Sage green.

30. Have you ever fired a gun? No. Which is weird when you see all the guns my dad has always had. Then again, I don't think he ever really fired them very often, just polished them and traded them and stuff.

31. Do you like to travel by plane? I haven't been on a plane in 9 years. I don't think I would mind it, but I can't imagine getting really excited about it either.

32. Right handed or left handed? Right.

33. If you could go to any place right now, where would you go? Excellent question. I guess I don't have the itch to travel that so many people have. And maybe that is just because I haven't done it enough. But really, I don't get that excited about places as much as I do about people, so wherever there are lots of friendly and fun people, that's where I want to be. On the other hand, I do kind of get a bad vibe from places, atmosphere is really important to me. I cannot enjoy good food in a redone Burger King, for example. Because hello, it looks like a Burger King with a piano where the smoking section divider used to be! And I can't run down a busy road with factories and rundown retail spaces. So I want to be somewhere cozy, quaint and romantic, but not marketed as such (can't stand a tourist trap!)- some charming little coastal New England town, a centuries old college town in the Deep South, basically somewhere worthy of a Cottage Living write up.

34. Are you missing someone? George. But he'll be back tomorrow. I can handle it.

35. Do you have a tattoo? Can you imagine if I did? No, an obvious and resounding no. Although, I have just been thinking what kind of tattoo I would have if I had ever gotten one, and I decided that the idea of having a Chi Omega tattooed where you're supposed to wear your pin (above your heart) would be hysterical. Man, I hope no one has ever done that before. No, the thought of getting a tattoo has never even crossed my mind. Ouch!

36. Do you still watch cartoons on Saturday mornings? They aren't even on in the morning anymore. I used to get up at like five on Saturdays when I was a kid. My kids are bouncing off the walls by nine before they even start. And they're lame now too. George keeps saying we just need to get Looney Tunes on DVD.

37. Are you hiding something from someone right now? What kind of person just says everything to everyone all the time? A very brave person, that's who. And probably a kind of rude person too. I must say, I am neither. In a word, yes.

38. Are you 18? No. 30.

39. What is the wallpaper on your cellphone? Elspeth's smiling face.

40. Are you afraid of the dark? Absolutely.

41. Favorite hangout? As if I ever hang out anymore! But sometimes my friend Sonja and I skip Sunday school and go to Starbucks. And we can do that because she's the pastor's wife :) That is always a nice treat, to actually have a conversation without kids. My only other "hangout" is when the moms all stand around and watch our kids on the playground. And you know how that goes, "hold on just a minute, she's running out in the road...," "wait just a minute, I'm scared he's going to fall....," "oh, she needs to go to the bathroom, we'll see you later..." Not really so much hanging out as having choppy, fragmented, cut short discussions.

42. 3 things you can't live without? Oxygen, water, food. Just kidding. Um, my husband, my children, my friends.

43. Favorite songs? Since ninth grade, "One" by U2. But that is horribly trite at this point. I should listen to new music more often. I used to always have someone making me tapes or telling me what to listen to. It was extremely helpful. Now I am in a Jack Johnson, Counting Crows rut, though I found both their latest albums to be extremely disappointing. I kind of wonder what ever happened to Taylor after American Idol. Remember him? I mention this because I am kind of looking forward to what David Cook will do. This is silly, yes. But you must consider that my only exposure to new music is via American Idol. Which is horribly embarrassing. I was sitting in traffic yesterday with my windows down trying to let the hot air out of the car. This was also embarrassing because I drive a minivan. And there is nothing cool about driving around with the windows down in the minivan. I had flashbacks to this time ten years ago when I used to drive around in my Jeep Wrangler with the doors off listening to all the oh-so coolest music there was. Or so I thought. Last time I had that flashback was around Christmas time when we got the new Feist CD. Something about "1234" was really fun for me. "1234" and "Mmmbop." Because you know, I'm eclectic like that.

44. What are you afraid of? The dark, being alone, the death or peril of my husband or children. That last one is something that kind of plagues me. It requires daily prayer to shake it. Does anyone else struggle with that?

45. Are you a giver or a taker? Giver. It's way easier. Though I fear that as far as emotional support goes, I am way more of a taker. I'm a needy gal. In a bad way. Wah waah.

46. What are you nicknames? Oh man, do we have time for these? Anything you can do with Abby has been done. I think we've discussed this before. But for those who are curious: Ab, Abs, Abs of Steel, Absky, Abtron, Abelina, Abby Road, Slap Happy Abby, Abby Normal, Abbygail, Gailmeister, Gailster, Miss Abigail, Mizabby, Abigail Catch-a-snail (and that one stuck somehow!), and surely I'm leaving something out? Mostly now, I just answer to Abby, Momma, Wife, and Honey Bear. Yeah, George calls me Wife (less now, because I hate it) and Honey bear (which is mostly a joke that we call each other), and almost never Abby. For some reason, people are resistant to just plain old Abby. It's kind of strange, really.

47. What is your dad's middle name? McCall. Nice, eh? I've thought of using it.

48. What do you sleep in? A bed. Ha ha! Pajamas, which is equally obvious dontcha think?

49. Stuck on a deserted island and can only bring one thing? Is this assuming I will be able to find food and water? What about a boat or a satellite phone to get off? That makes me sound way more practical than I am. Okay, I'll play. I don't know though. I mean, what would you do without music or books? But on the other hand, you would want a picture of your family. Maybe I'd bring a guitar. Because then I could make music. After teaching myself more than the three chords I know. But if a string breaks, it's a waste. This question stinks.

50. Favorite TV commercial? So many I don't like, I can't think of any I do. I will update this one if anything but the most obnoxious commercials ever comes to mind.

51. First thing you save in a fire? If the children are okay, then I save the smocked dresses. This is a running joke, yet it's absolutely true. There are years of my life in those dresses, y'all!

52. What is your favorite color? Pink.

53. What are the things you always bring with you? Amabel, August, Elspeth, Elspeth's diaper bag, purse containing wallet, keys, and phone, and more than likely a bottled water or cup of coffee. And don't forget, my smile. Ching!

54. What did you want to be when you were a kid? A ballerina. This might have been more possible if my mother had let me take dance lessons. I also had an idea around nine or ten that I would really like to be a pastor's wife. Is that weird? I think it is just because our associate pastor's wife was really sweet. I thought I couldn't wait to make some little girl's day by knowing her name and saying something kind to her like she always did to me. Plus, she was really pretty. I suppose I assumed that if she was, all pastor's wives were. So hey, automatic niceness and prettiness, sounds like a good gig eh?

55. What do you usually do when the alarm turns on? Hit snooze and keep sleeping. Doesn't everyone? This is built in to my factoring what time to set it for.

56. What color are your bed sheets? Khaki. And let me tell you, I cannot wait to pitch them the morning we move. That is the best thing about moving this time, new sheets for the first time since going off to college!

57. Who do you want to meet? Oh gosh. I never think about these things. Nice people. I want to meet nice, friendly, polite, hospitable, honest, generous, kind, compassionate, energetic people. You know, people like me.

58. Ha!

59. What do you think about before you go to bed? Whichever prayer request is weighing most heavily on me. That is why for months I had nightmares about Amelia and about my friend Jane whose husband died. Lately, it is more about my kids because I feel like a crappy mom. Seriously, I am not getting through so I lecture and snap which is making everything worse. I have derailed. But we'll pull it together somehow. This is why I pray. And therefore why I am thinking about them when I go to bed. Them, or running. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I really will want to run tomorrow; I just don't want to run now because it's midnight and I already ran today and I need to go to sleep. All of which is true at this moment. 'Night y'all!

Monday, June 09, 2008


As some of you know, I have my very own DLF at the Y. Well, he's not a dwarf, but he is dear and a friend, even if I don't know his name. So I just sort of think of him as my own personal DLF. I met him one of the first days I started working out at the Y, back in February. He is slightly patronizing, because he, like everyone else in the world, assumes that I didn't exercise before I came. If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times, the thing about being overweight is that people assume you never exercise and that you regularly binge eat on junk food. The most frustrating thing in the world to me is that I do neither, but I have to live with this stigma because people assume it is so automatically. The patronizing, "Oh, good for you!" when I reference being at the Y (as if it was my very first time), the frequent comments from people explaining to me that diet and exercise are really important, the surprise (or over-encouragement, as if I'm on some sort of diet) people seem to have when I am eating a salad or not as much as they are, all of that is both embarrassing, annoying, and well, a daily part of my life. My DLF is always preaching at me, telling me how strong I am, how no one else works out for an hour every day, how it will really pay off and keep me healthy, but I have to keep it up, and I need to commit to taking care of myself for life, for my children's sake, and that nothing's more important than my health. I think he truly does mean to be helpful and complimentary, but no matter how many times I tell him I ran track and cross country in high school, continued running nearly every day until I had children, and have been either walking or doing aerobics since being a mom, he still acts like I have just entered the wonderful world of exercise! Also, I watch the Food Network while I run and look at cooking magazines, so I can see that that probably doesn't help my case against the whole binge eating assumption! But anyway, I think I have realized that for the most part, he just likes to have someone younger on whom to bestow his wisdom.

He works out for two hours every day, which is amazing, and leaves a soaking wet machine and surrounding floor mat behind when he leaves. He used to run marathons, but suffered an injury so now he stays on the elliptical machine to avoid the harsh impact (same reason I do). He told me today that his mother is 86, so I am guessing, as I pretty much had already, that he is in his early sixties. He always gets there an hour or so before I do, and then when I arrive, he always greets me with a big smile and tells me how nice it is to see me. Then when he leaves, he says things like, "It's always a pleasure to see you," or, "I'll look forward to seeing you again tomorrow." So see, he is a very dear man. We don't talk too too much- a little here, a little there, but I have realized fairly quickly that he does not want me to tell him about my life, so he doesn't even know how many children I have or that my husband was a student. I think sometimes about how sad I'll be when I have to tell him I won't be seeing him again. I kinda think I'll have to bake him a big ol' batch of cookies and write him a card. But who do I address it to?! "Dear DLF?!"

On several days lately, we have coincidentally both been late and still come at the same time. Last week I didn't get out until around eleven o'clock in the morning. He saw me in the parking lot and drove over to explain why he was late and let me know he would be in shortly. Today, I came in at about two o'clock in the afternoon, and there he was again. I said, "Well, you're running real late today!" He smiled and nodded and I went on over to stretch. When I came back, I asked him if he had had a nice weekend and he said he had but that the reason he was so late today was because he "had a house fire." I said the automatic and incredulous "you're kidding!" because 1) he was working out and 2) he was smiling his usual smile. So I'm remembering the cake that caught on fire at my house a few years back and thinking it is something only slightly more tragic than the loss of a perfectly delightful pound cake. But then he told me the story. And no, it's like the second story of his house caught fire, it took firemen 2 hours to put it out, and he has nothing left! Just like that. No one was hurt. It was an electrical problem in the upper level. Evidently there were tenants that lived on that floor, but the smoke and water damage ruined all of his own things on the first level. I asked him if he had anything that could be salvaged. He said "I might can save a couple pairs of pants."

Can you imagine?! I told him I couldn't believe he was working out the same day his home burnt down! He said it helps him work through things. He said his "feelings are a little hurt," that this was the house he grew up in, but that as long as he has his health he figures he's okay. He went on to tell me a little bit more of his exercise history which pretty much tips past the line of being obsessive. Evidently, in the past, he often ran 35-40 miles a day, not just on marathon days. I have asked him before how he has time to run for two hours each day, and he told me he was retired. But today I realized that he has always run that far at the very least! He also mentioned several divorces which didn't really surprise me in light of the six day weeks he said he used to work considered with how much time he must have spent running (unless his wife/wives ran with him!)! Anyway, what an interesting guy! And I wonder what I can do for him. I feel so terrible that he has lost everything. Has anyone ever known anyone that this happened to? What would you suggest, keeping in mind that I can't really do anything that I can't do for him at the Y, which pretty much just means bringing him something as far as I can think. Well, pray for him if you think of it. I wish I could give you a name for the person for whom you would be praying. I guess I should just break down and say, "you know, I've never told you, my name is Abby." I reckon I will. Well, let me know if you have any ideas of how I can serve this Dear Little Friend.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Sunday Afternoon Catharsis

I have had a really blessed day today visiting with friends. The pastors' and seminary students' retreat is today and tomorrow so that left several of us without husbands this afternoon. I had lunch with one friend and then drove about 200 yards to have a chat with another friend. Both gatherings were really refreshing, and yet always that tiny bit nerve wracking that is the experience of two moms trying to have a real conversation with 5 or 10 (yes, 10!) children running to and fro. So many good thoughts were started, but not necessarily completed. And I know that is what journals are for, but maybe blogs are a little bit too? It's been a while since I pondered the deeper issues with you all...

Well, some of you will laugh because I keep telling this story. But it was, as Oprah or somebody says, "an aha! moment." I have those every now and then. So, I was at the Y and I signed up for my machine and went to stretch. I signed up for 4:45 for 1 hour. I come over at 4:48 and someone is on my machine! There is a row of five with no one on them and she is on mine! So I look at the sign up sheet, and she has signed up over my name. Weird. And I am wondering why on earth she would do that when all the other machines are empty. Even weirder, she is signed up for 5:15, so she is on my machine, which is already claimed for the 5:15-5:45 slot that she signed up for, and she is on it 30 minutes early. So I am annoyed, actually pretty majorly annoyed. Because I can't stand rudeness. On the other hand, there are five other machines so it is pretty easy to just move on. Which is what I did, except that I found myself running and just fuming over how rude this girl was. And honestly, it was not an unfamiliar experience.

All too often I find myself driving down the road or rinsing out my hair or stirring a pot on the stove while having a very heated argument with some sort of wrongdoer in my head. But it actually grabbed me this time, perhaps because it was a total stranger and there truly was no harm done, and perhaps because the Holy Spirit was having his say, but it occurred to me that I had a major grudge against a complete stranger. And I began to think how it was kind of like the grudge I have against the girls who made such a big deal out of us needing the washer and dryer we loaned them back, and kind of like the grudge I have against a girl at church who made fun of me in front of a lot of people when I was brand new and still really shy, and kind of like the grudge I have against my old campus minister, and on and on. Yeah, that bad. I mean, there were a lot of grudges that instantly came to mind. And most of them are things that I have tried to rationalize, not to rationalize my grudge, but to reason myself out of the grudge. Like, "oh, she was only teasing," or "it was just a misunderstanding," or " he probably feels bad about it now that he is out of the situation." But somehow, those things I have been telling myself have not really helped me. Because here I am, years later in most cases, still really hurt and pretty angry too. And in most situations, I really was wronged. And I really did pursue reconciliation that didn't go over well. But nonetheless, the only thing having a grudge is doing, is hurting me.

Girl on the elliptical machine has no idea I'm mad, or at least doesn't care, so get over it, right? And these are the things I tell myself, but they don't help. So these people are going along their merry way, and I am being eaten up with anger toward them. Because the burning question for me often goes a little something like, "How do you forgive people when they aren't sorry?" I mean, often times they flat out tell you they aren't sorry and that they will not apologize. As someone who apologizes profusely for everything from forgetting someone's birthday to saying something in an unkind tone of voice to chewing someone out (because yeah, I do that sometimes too), I don't get that. But people tell me I'm an honest gal, and maybe part of that is being able to say I screwed up pretty easily. Maybe it's not so easy for some people.

One of our Scripture readings today in church was the passage in James chapter 2 that talks about how if we are guilty of one part of the law, we are a transgressor of the law. So basically, it doesn't matter if you don't do this one bad thing over here, because you did do this other thing, so you're a lawbreaker. Maybe you didn't break the same law as that guy over there, but you're still a lawbreaker. And that kind of grabbed me too. Especially verse 13, "For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment." Because the idea that maybe I didn't steal someone's elliptical machine (ooooh! big deal!) or make fun of a new girl in front of a bunch of people (or maybe I did once and I forgot about it?), but I did chew my son out when he didn't listen to what I told him to do and I did have a really bad attitude about a lot of things too numerous to recount for you, and all of that without mentioning the very obvious anger I have had toward a whole lot of people.

Mercy. It's not something I would say I don't ever extend. In fact, I am in the daily practice of trying to be merciful and loving to my children, or being "mercy ministry" minded to people in need. Trying, not always succeeding :) And mercy is just part of being polite, part of being kind. Micah 6:10, "He has shown thee, oh man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?" Check, check, check. Right? (I'm kidding there of course!) But if you are really merciful, you will extend it to the people who don't want it, who don't ask for it, who don't think they need it. After all, that's what Christ did for us. And that is a really really tall order for me.

I am not sure if anyone can relate. I wanted to give one little example just to over-explain like I like to do. Imagine you're in your car with all your children, and you're stopped at a stop sign, and someone just plows into the back of you. The kids are crying, but everyone is okay, you get out of the car and it's this guy whose face is beet red and he is just fighting mad, yelling and screaming at you because he says you should have gone through the stop sign and he wouldn't have hit you. What a freak! (This has actually happened to me when I was pregnant with August.) Now imagine that instead of the crazy man, it's some sweet grandmotherly lady and she says how sorry she is and offers to let you use her cell phone to call the police and asks very sincerely about your children and clearly just feels terrible. For me, it is a piece of cake to forgive the old lady. Everyone makes mistakes, bless her heart. And I may never get over the audacity of that man!

Except I will. Because that is the thing I am working on lately. A very humbling thing actually, daily praying for grace to forgive people for offenses big and small that they have probably (and I should have) long since forgotten. And I think the most humbling thing about it is that amongst all the grudges, a rather embarrassing one has been unearthed, a grudge against God. Which, as I'm sure you know, is ridiculous. Because God can't be wrong. So clearly, being angry with him, as if he has wronged me in some way, is nonsense. And yet, there it is. Because if he's in charge, and he is good, then why? Why do we have friends who have been unemployed for months? Why did he spare Amelia's life only to let her suffer such irreversible brain damage? Why did he allow her to get sick in the first place? Or why place a baby in a good and loving home only to have her taken away from those who have loved her so well? And why does he allow his children to grow up in homes where they are abused and unloved? Why does my family continually find ourselves in a position where we have no money and time is running out? Seriously, for me, spoiled brat Abby Hawkins, it is tough! And the answer to all of these questions, at least for us, is because His ways are higher than our ways. And that makes me mad. Because sometimes his ways just seem mean. And I kind of wonder if it made Joseph mad when he was stuck in jail for a crime he didn't commit in a foreign land after being sold into slavery by his brothers. Or if it made Job mad when his entire family and everything he owned was taken from him. So what if it was restored; it's not like his family members were suddenly not dead anymore! Does anyone else ever have this attitude? I can't decide where, if anywhere, it is okay and human and part of growing, or if it completely reprehensible to even think such things. Which also makes me mad, because who wouldn't think this way? How could you help it? Who are the stoics who look at what happened to Amelia and don't get angry? But on the other hand, like I said, the anger gets me nowhere. There has to be peace. And that's what I am praying for now.

So, kind of a lot here. And try not to be alarmed if this is the sort of thing that alarms you. I am fine. I am just working through the tragedies and injustices of the world. And actually feeling pretty good about my own personal "tragedies" in light of the ones in the lives of the people around me. (But man, it sure would be nice to not be homeless next month.) Y'all pray for Amelia. The family moved back home to Nebraska this past week to be nearer to family and to begin RUF campus ministry at University of Nebraska. I am very excited for them and especially for the students in their ministry, but I am fairly certain there were tears in their eyes when I asked them about Amelia's future last week. I find myself doing a little bargaining with God every now and then, thinking if he could just miraculously restore her, I could be absolutely certain of his goodness. But that is not how it works, is it? Well, he may work miracles for her yet. And for all of us! He has done so many things this far. I really do know that. Shame on me for thinking it isn't enough.

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