You are currently browsing the monthly archive for October 2007.

kitty and betsy came over last night for a lovelies reunion and a short trip to starbucks. but (before our toilet decided to stop working and cut the night short) i was talking to kitty about different blogs i read and thought i would post them, because they’re all really, really worthwhile.

  • avanoo: this is by far my No. 1 blog to read. the guy writes really powerfully and really touching stories, and he’s been in the midst of detailing his feelings about this girl “Katie” who lives far away and who he’s just friends with, for now. it’s really sweet.
  • posie gets cozy and angry chicken are charming little blogs that include lots of pretty pictures and crafts/decorating/cooking, and also detail sweet moments in the women’s lives.
  • for pretty decorating ideas and updates, i like decor8
  • for pretty, but ever-so-slightly offbeat, fashion, i like some girls wander (the author of that creates amazing paintings reminiscent of those wide-eyed girls from the 70s)
  • i love the band eisley and sherri is always making cute posts with cute pictures. i totally want to be friends with her.

and to read all those, i highly recommend using google.com/reader. you can set subscriptions to all your favorite blogs and then make a one-shop stop there to read all the updates. it makes my life so much more interesting–like DVR for the internet!

also, our latest issue of HOW just came out, which is one of my all-time favorites, just because it’s finally turning out beautiful:

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and it includes the fun office-supply story that i dug up products for and curated (which turned out to be the cover story!):

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so i finished “with or without you” last night. here’s one of my favorite parts from “with or without you.” of course there was all the relationship stuff and some good spiritual insights (such as the idea that love always wins, but always here on earth, or that it’s hard for us to give grace to others because it’s unfair–it’s purposely not doling out the punishment you deserve). but my favorite was an example he dug up from this author Erwin McManus. he recaps how erwin got a call one day from his junior-high son who was away at camp and wanted to come home. the kid, though, admits that he heard a voice in his head that told him he should stay and try to work things out with another kid he’d gotten in a fight with. the dad (erwin) makes it a point to tell his son, “do you realize what just happened? you heard the voice of the living God. he spoke to you from within your soul. forget everything else that just happened. god has spoken to you, and you were able to recognize him.” erwin goes on to tell his son that he has two choices in this situation; to obey God or not to, but each carries a consequence. “if he rejected the voice of God and chose to disobey His guidance, his heart would become hardened, and his ears would become dull. and if he continued on this path, there would be a day when he would never again hear the voice of God. …. but if he treasured God’s voice and responded to Him in obedience, then his heart would be softened and his ears would always be able to hear the whisper of God into his soul.”

i love that idea, of how the smallest choices today can have such great ramifications, and pointing that reality out to a young kid. we so easily disregard things and hinge everything on second chances or tomorrow or next time. but today matters, and we have to realize that and how much it can matter.

it’s silly to be happy about this, but i am. after months of bemoaning and not really doing anything about it, i’ve finally found my way to a new book that makes me giddy and unable to put down.

on sunday, i had an afternoon and evening to myself. so after taking a nap and then finally making my way to the grocery store and back, and finishing the book i’d previously forced myself through (unfortunately i have to admit it was “the lion, the witch and the wardrobe,” which i’d originally read years ago and didn’t remember being so simple)–it was still early. i’d already caught up on all of my television shows (which is impressive in and of itself), so i decided to pick up another book from my shelf. i’d started collecting a lot from the library in hopes that one of them would stick. as it turns out, the one that did was one i’d bought a long time ago. it’s called “with or without you” by cameron conant.

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it’s another relevant book and it’s a guy’s memoir about his relationship–into love and eventually out of, culminating with getting divorced. i think that’s one of the reasons that i’d put off reading it; because i was scared of what i’d read or what it’d say or how it’d change my own insights. i was afraid it’d make me sad and depressed and weary of relationships.

but it’s heartening and very human. you feel sorry for the guy–what started out as love morphs into hardened hearts and unapologetic expectations–but you also totally relate to him. you can see how something started out so innocent–the idea that “I couldn’t imagine life without her”–and how that just isn’t always enough to base a relationship on if you don’t have other things in place, namely resting on God instead of on another person. (i think the captivating and wild at heart books do a good job of talking about those ideas and how important it is to not manipulate where you look for fulfillment–it can only come from God, not from another, flawed human.) i think the reason why i like the book so much is because i do identify with him; it reminds me of the past relationships i’ve had and makes me thankful that those paths ended when they did, and i (selfishly) didn’t have to go through all the pain that this guy did. it’s encouraging and comforting in a sad kind of way.

right now i’m at the end, where he’s talking about his spiritual life and how his divorce has shaped it. how he’s learned to depend on God, but also how he feels like his Christian community hasn’t really lived up to their end of the deal. i think he looks at it from the perspective of, that’s just another reason why you have to let God and His grace be enough, but i think that’s one thing that’s sad to me–that i want to see people step up to the plate and be there for one another. of course that’s me being hypocritical, because i know i let my selfishness get in the way, too. i just wish it weren’t that way.

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i noticed that i haven’t been very good about posting with pictures lately. my apologies with that.

as it turns out, there has been a lot going on visually in the life of carmen, so here’s a little retrospective:

over my bed, there’s a big white wall. currently i have a pretty picture of dancers above the headboard, but i think the picture is too small for the space. i’m contemplating blowing up a lyric into a big poster and framing that for overhead. you can do it pretty cheap through walmart.com; i’m just not 100% that i’m going to love it. but i hope so. here’s a version of what i’m thinking, image-wise (although the green will be more sage-y, but i do like the white background. not sure what color for the frame though):
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has anyone ordered posters through there? i’m afraid that the resolution will come out blurry. (the lyric is from the end of our dear old boys troubled hubble‘s song, “nancy.”)

additionally, i’d been fretting over my necklaces and so i went on a crafting binge while i hung out at my parents’ house. my dad helped me find a proper stick and cut it down to size, and then i hammered and nailed and spraypainted until i came up with this:

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i’m pleased with it. not 100% in love, but i think it will do. i’m not sure what i think it’s missing. maybe another coat of spray paint? honestly i’m too lazy for that. at least it’s sturdy.

and earlier this week, our staff took a little “inspiration outing” and checked out some designerly shops downtown, one of which was High Street, a place where i seriously want to call home. it was beautiful, with all kinds of old couches and beautiful chandeliers and patterns and lots of nature-y accents:

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to start off a post about reading, here’s a funny blog that cites “unnecessary” uses of quotation marks. (as an editor, i find it really funny, although i’m quite aware that others very well may not appreciate it.)

regardless, the problem i’ve run into lately is having no good books to read. for awhile there i was on a roll; such beauts this summer as ‘captivating’, ‘the thrill of the chaste’, ‘girl meets god’ ‘the spellman files’ ‘love walked in’… but now i feel like i’ve hit a wall. i’ve been to the library and bookstore various times and just haven’t found anything that really whets my whistle or gets me excited.

there have been lots of false starts though. i had gone on a rampage ordering memoirs (in hopes of stumbling on another ‘here’s to hindsight’) but the one i only made it halfway through and the other one seems a little too depressing to venture into yet. i got some YA novels from the library but they were predictable and too dumb (“i baked evan some cookies, i just KNOW he’s going to have to fall in love with me!!!” “why didn’t evan even look at me? it must be because he’s just waiting for the perfect time!” yes, that was the plotline exactly.)

so i don’t know. i picked up ‘the lion, the witch and the wardrobe,’ which i’m rereading but i really need something gripping after that. i like the narnia books, but it’s just not hitting the spot. i’m very much that way with books–if you’re not feeling it, don’t give in. indulge on the good stuff; don’t waste your time on all the crappy lookalikes. so i’m currently caught in the process of sifting through all those lookalikes, trying to find a gem. any suggestions?

here’s a list of my recent favorites, for reference.
fiction: love walked in. as simple as snow. a taxonomy of barnacles. the spellman files. perks of being a wallflower. nanny diaries. (yes i know i was late with those last two.)
nonfiction: here’s to hindsight. captivating. the thrill of the chaste. irresistible revolution. god’s politics. girl meets god

i’m thinking fiction. not really in a nonfiction frame-of-mind yet. although i could possibly do something memoir-ish/autobiographical. anyway. suggestions????

see? home by 10:30. refreshing.

this has been week no. 1 in my attempt to recalibrate. it has been good. although really it’s worked out less because of my attempts and more because everyone (meaning the lovelies and paul) have been busy. so i haven’t really had to try to take things slow and take time for myself. it’s nice to be eased into things.

yesterday, after having what was officially titled “my no good, very bad day” (don’t ask), i left work 15 minutes early and took the time to do something i haven’t done in over a month: run. in high school i was a really good runner. i played soccer and could almost always be the first player to finish all our laps around the practice complex. halfway through the season my junior year, though, i got really bad shin splints and couldn’t run without shooting pains. so i stopped running and was afraid to for years. this past summer i decided to try again. and, surprisingly, i wasn’t half bad. although i guess i’m not sure what i’m measuring it against, but i’m not disappointed in where i’ve picked up.

so it was, that i ran for an hour yesterday and was quite heartened by it. it did help clear the bumbling air that was gathering in my head.

today i went over to my parents’ house and visited my grandma who was actually much herself, which typically isn’t the case. that was such a good feeling. she was laughing and cracking jokes. she had a hard time hearing and many times misinterpreted what i was saying (i guess i have a hard time speaking up), but that made it more entertaining. she slipped a few times into her own little world, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as it has been. that was a good feeling. we ordered pizza and i made tasty pumpkin cupcakes for sir paul and then i worked a new project of mine.

right now i have this crappy piece of cardboard that i made holes in with a hole punch and have strung my necklaces through. although i’ve received compliments on it, i think it’s pretty shoddy. so my new effort is to take a medium-sized branch and cut it down and then pop nails into it and spray paint it white. all i have left is the spray paint and mounting. cross your fingers. i can’t have my necklaces get tangled and this is the best idea i’ve come up with yet. (plus i just like nature-y stuff. i’m also working a poster to blow up for over my bed. more on that later.)

and i think the best part of my day was at work i decided to start working on my lesson plan for this sunday. if you don’t know, i teach sunday school for the teen girls at church. well every once and a while i like to do “Fireside Chats” with the girls–basically a chance for them to tap into what’s going on in their life and apply it to God and look at it through that lens, and get the support of the rest of the group. so, considering what’s been going on lately in my life, i decided to hone in this week on struggles. so i spent some time looking up verses and came across a bunch that just heartened me. it was pretty cool to go from, one moment being self-pitying and ‘woe is me’ to, the next, being content and satisfied despite the circumstances or ‘what if’s.

here’s an example, 2 cor. 4:16-18 (MSG): Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye.

one of the things i did was type up all the verses so that the girls can cut the various ones up and keep them with them, in their purse or put them on their mirror or in their locker–just so that they have them nearby when they need them for reassurance. i do that at work; have a little “inspiration/reassurance wall.” it’s mostly made of encouragements i received when i went to haiti this winter. and i look to it often, so i know it’s worthwhile. so i’m amped for it–for both my sake and for the girls’. i haven’t felt like i’ve really given them the time and effort they deserve lately, so i’d like to work on that.

although i did get an email today about the OTR efforts and that they might be acquiring a n old church down there and attempting “betterment” efforts like helping the homeless neighbors find jobs or learn to read or to write. that’s totally the kind of thing i want to be involved in. so we’ll see. i’m excited about the opportunity, although i’m already wondering how i would be able to fit yet another commitment into my schedule. but i think it’s a good thing. so i guess i just have trust that the pieces will all fall into their place. i have faith that they will… one way or another, they alway do, right?

the weekend was fabulous. the pictures are posted here. becky and i headed down on friday and arrived at jackie’s in time for some homemade tacos (because that’s what i always made for myself when i lived down there) and then we hit up innisfree, which was the bar that jackie and i used to always go to when we lived up the street. she hadn’t been back in ages, and of course it cracked me up to be back there again. but the drinks were cheap and the cover band (always a bham staple) did “sweet home alabama”, so it was just like old times and becky got to experience a little taste of the old life. she got to see for herself how boys all wear the collared shirts with crew cuts or outgrown-crew-cuts-that-slightly-resemble-shaggy-hair-but-not-quite, and how the girls are all in heels and dolled up. actually though there was a guy there with a sweatband arm band, and i was completely shocked. the times they are a-changin’.

saturday we took a quick tour around the city (back to my old house, my old park, and my old work), and then went to elizabeth’s wedding. thinking it started at 2:30 and we were arriving early, like good friends, we walked in only to find that we were in step with the wedding party processional. the wedding actually started at 2pm. so we hid in a little coat closet till elizabeth made her way down the aisle, and then we sneaked into the back. it was a lovely wedding though and the reception was amazing. it had a really cool atmosphere: very nice and classy, but laidback and casual. hard to pull off, but i think it’s because there was no designated seating and you could sit inside or out (in the church’s pretty courtyard) and there were food stations sprinkled throughout. i loved the feel of it, and plus the centerpieces were beautiful (cylinder vases filled with apples and calla lilies and roses–her colors were red and white and black).

afterward, we headed over to her house to keep the celebration going and mingled with the wedding party (becky got to meet her girl crush). of course we watched the bride play ping pong. plus, we got to eat the rest of the food that we hadn’t had room in our stomachs to eat at the wedding. and they made wings 🙂 around 9 we went back to the hotel and turned in for an early evening. only to be awakened a couple hours later to our noisy neighbors, who finally quieted down around 3. then, 8 hours later, we were back in cincinnati and all was well…

that’s a pretty quote that i read in this lady’s blog. she seems like she lives such a pretty life, always cooking and baking and sewing clothes for her kids. seems very peaceful and serene in that it’s probably chaotic and crazy, but just the way you’d want it to be. who knows. anyway, yes, i liked the quote.

tomorrow i leave for good ole birmingham, alabama. i’m actually really, really looking forward to it. it will be me, becky, and an 8-hour car ride from here to there. and “there,” we’ll meet up with jackie, my old roommate from way back When; when we used to live in a little southern cottage and chase the flying cockroaches with bug spray and try to smash them with phonebooks and textbooks and when i burnt a whole pan of baked beans and our other roommate hated us and there was a visiting mouse and melted strainer and we worked at big-name magazines and hung out at southern bars and learned every word to “sweet home alabama” and watched “life was we know it” until it was cancelled and took a road trip to new orleans and got ourselves in all sorts of youthful debacles. and then she stayed there and i packed up my car and then on Christmas Eve 2004, drove back home through a snow storm with no idea what awaited me in my old hometown.

it was a really scary time in my life. i remember driving down there when i accepted the internship. jackie and i had never met, i had no idea what i was in for and was taking this as a leap of faith. i remember listening to the allister song that talks about starting over from “scratch”, which is exactly what i felt like i was doing:

you better start from scratch
it’s now or never
but we can’t look back
I need you with me
for another day
she’s so far away
yeah far away

I know there’s no time left for second chances
Still we’re right despite these circumstances
You’ve changed me more than you could ever know
So we will just hang on until tomorrow
so take my hand
don’t ever let me go

take our time
making sure that everything feels right
it won’t be easy
but I’m not afraid
she’s so far away

you better start from scratch
it’s now or never
but we can’t look back
I need you with me
for another day
she’s so far away
yeah far away

and as with so many other things in life, it all turned out beautifully. we made memories, i found a perfect job and moved back home and made amazing friends and an amazing little life for myself. so it will be interesting to journey back, now at the point where i am, and look at it all through that lens. on Friday, we’ll head over to Jackie’s and do dinner and reminisce and then head over to Innisfree, the bar that we used to walk to every weekend, and on Saturday our friend Liz is tying the knot so we’ll get to experience a proper Southern wedding. and then on Sunday… we make the trek back. maybe we can stop in Nashville for dinner or something? i’d enjoy that i think.

so we’ll see. but i’m looking forward to the break and the moment to catch my breath. i feel like i’ve been running full speed ahead and so now i realize that that isn’t healthy. so if you pray, i’d appreciate those kinds of prayers. just learning how to strike that balance. i went so far as to scribe a little list of rules: things like leave one night a week with nothing planned, do nothing (phone, visiting, etc.) after 10:30pm, and only schedule 2 things a night. (last night for instance involved a happy hour from 5 to 7, small group from 7:30 to 9:15, and stopping by paul’s from 9:30 to 10.) i just recognize that by running myself ragged i get stressed = fretful = crabby and that’s not worth it. that’s not me.

so thanks for any prayers, internet friends. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16)

(also, in regular list-making fare, i got started on my christmas list. and that’s a month later than most years!)

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two weeks! two weeks?

where have i been? let’s do a retrospective:

BROWN COUNTY FAIR
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