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over the weekend, i played my first soccer game with kitty’s indoor team. fortunately, i didn’t really have much time to get too nervous about the venture because work has been hectic as all get out lately (more so than usual as we’re working on yet another web project–we just got a new CEO who’s “passionate about the internet,” oh and also about coaching baseball. and yes, he mentioned both “passions” in the same sentence).

anyway so friday night i find my way to the venue where, come to find out, i’m wearing a purple shirt while my team is red and the opposing team is black. needless to say, that’s when the nervousness started to kick in.

but, as ‘luck’ would have it, all that got erased in a moment’s time, because as i showed up, a big guy with a shaved head throws his hands down on the table i’m standing in front of. “carmen from temple baptist!! do you remember me?!?” once i shook the shock off, i looked closer and–not being one who easily remembers faces–slowly guessed, “jon simpson?”

sure enough, here was a kid (now a man) who i haven’t seen in 10 years. when i was in 8th and 9th grade, maria and i played soccer and her dad was a youth pastor at the nearby temple baptist church, so of course i hitched a ride with her. jon was in the youth group there and for the next 2 years i spent quite a bit of time there (sunday nights, wednesday nights, overnights, church camp–the whole shebang). but then maria’s dad decided to quit as youth pastor there (he was also the Bible teacher at maria’s high school and the school’s volleyball coach and basketball coach). when he quit, a lot people were upset and thought he was being selfish for resigning. so, they decided to leave temple baptist. i left with them and never returned, either.

but here i was, on a random friday night and i already knew about half the team. jon, his brother and sister were also on the team. it was really interesting to be reunited with people who probably don’t recognize you at all, because the last time they saw you, you were running around in baggy cordorouys and singing Goo Goo Dolls in the parking lot with your BFF who was wearing green mascara and even baggier jeans.

it’s interesting to think back to those afternoons that we spent there, having no idea what lay ahead of us. i don’t even remember what i worried about back then or what i thought would happen or where i thought i’d be when i was 24. i probably expected to be married and maybe even starting a family–or at least thinking about it.

but here i am, as confused and foggy about the future as ever, but, looking back over my shoulder, quite content at where my path has led me. it hasn’t been simple or suspecting. but i can see how God stepped in and guided all of that and has made it richer than i’d ever imagined. which just makes me look forward to more–to tomorrow.

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so rather than make resolutions for 2008, here’s an abridged (due mostly to forgetfulness than anything else) list of amazing things i experienced this past year. (oh, and that IS something that i would like to resolve to do: every week take a picture of something that impacted me or that i learned a lesson about. week one will be ending soon, let’s see if i can stick to it!).

  • i went on a missions trip, to Haiti!
  • paid my civic off.
  • went to winter jam with the youth group and continued to get more involved in the core leadership of the student ministry, which i’ve found quite fulfilling.
  • started to teach myself the guitar. (and then, of course, quit when it came time to learn chords.)
  • joined a small group! became closer with Cathy and met Brianna. this was truly a godsend for me.
  • through my small group, youth group leading and just thoughts/resolutions i had, began to be able to open up more and more about faith issues and even give advice/offer own insights, rather than always be on the receiving end. and in that way mature: be able to think for myself and offer that to others.
  • traveled for conferences for work on my own (to san diego and minneapolis) and grew so far as my career and confidence in it, plus being able to present myself professionally and network.
  • my 3rd HOW Conference.
  • moved out! Got a roommate and decorated a cute apartment, which taught me a lot about initiative–if you need something done, you have to just do it. that means figuring out how to undo the overhead light when the bulb burns out or learn how to hang curtains and how to drill on my own or call the landlord or the billing departments when something isn’t going right. that was a big lesson in and of itself. plus able, for the first time, to really be able to reflect my tastes so LARGELY–a whole house to decorate! what a canvas! i had a great time doing that, too. my two best friends were spray paint and sewing machine–dear friends to the end!
  • started blogging, and through it, began to explore more the idea of ‘opening up.’ this also aided as i took a spiritual gifts test and realized one of my gifts is teaching/pastorship–so i felt like being able to share my insights/experiences via a blog and a small group would mentor/apprentice me in doing this in the future.
  • went to see a counselor, twice. and then decided didn’t need it after all. (i have my own Counselor and a bunch of friends who take on that role quite nicely. and don’t charge me $125 an hour.)
  • got back into running, this time a lot more successfully than last year.
  • some big purchases: new laptop and camera!
  • our Back to School Party!
  • took initiative and took leadership role for another (though short-lived) small group.
  • learned lessons about God: that sometimes it’s not for me to understand and fathom what happens in my life, i just have to trust. the importance of opening up/being real about your flaws and ugly spots is healthy (as Lauren Winner says, it’s another ironic form of sanctification). that God is going to put desires on my heart for a reason–to fulfill them; he isn’t going to tempt me and then yank it away and disappoint me–all in due time. that i still struggle with letting things go–that’s one to leave for 2008.
  • i made a concerted effort to try to get to know God better and to try to listen to Him, be guided by Him.
  • i felt–and knew–God’s peace.
  • read some really beneficial/enlightening books: The Thrill of the Chaste, Fight Like a Girl, Captivating, Wild at Heart, Girl Meets God, What Now, Here’s to Hindsight, With or Without You, Chronicles of Narnia…
  • musical discoveries: Tegan and Sara. Andrew Bird. Mae. Jack’s Mannequin. Hawk Nelson. Ben Folds (never had gotten into him before, believe it or not). Sea Wolf. Anberlin. David Crowder Band.
  • visited: Haiti. San Diego. Atlanta. Philadelphia. Minneapolis.

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!)

two weeks! two weeks?

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

BROWN COUNTY FAIR
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every tuesday me, holly and kitty congregate in the basement of betsy’s townhouse, squishing onto her big comfy couches and partake in what has become the great american pastime: watching tv together.

it all started one night in 2005, at an ihop or steak-n-shake or some late-night place like that. i remember us swinging open the glass doors to enter and somehow bringing up the topic of “gilmore girls.” kitty said she loved it. holly echoed the statement. so it seemed silly for us to not celebrate the splendor that is heretofore known as GG as a group.

so we gathered, dragging betsy along in tow, every tuesday to watch the latest installment of Luke vs. Christopher; Logan vs. Jess; Rory and Laine, Lorelai and her mother.

since the series kicked the bucket this spring, we’ve had to adopt new shows to fill the void. our choice? monday night television: Greek and The Hills. the hills is quite a phenomenon, and not one i had really sunk my teeth into. but that’s all changed. i still don’t know where audrina came from or what happened to whitney, but what i do know now is that holly and i totally deserve our own reality tv show. i think it’d be quite entertaining.

we’ll be in the midst of something and say, “if we had a reality show, this is a part they’d totally show.” since we might be waiting forever for this blockbuster to ever be taken seriously, here’s a glimpse at some of our would-be highlights from our debut season in The Maple Street House:

  • about a week ago holly was going to take a shower and found a big bug hanging out above our window. we decided that it was a hornet. and since we have yet to own a flyswatter, i went back to my closet for reinforcements and came back with a shoe on each hand, one Roo and one New Balance. (the thinking was that they each had different tread patterns on the bottom and maybe one was the better for trapping large flying insects with stingers.) i climbed up on the sink and, holding my breath and putting on my game face, started flailing at the bug. between screams and damnations and switching between shoes, it finally crashed to the sink top, vanquished.
  • on sunday, holly made me a mix cd to which the opening song was UNK’s “walk it out” of youtube fame (actually, my manager at work first introduced me to that video. in the same vein, it was my mom who had to teach me about lil mama’s lip gloss). well after googling it and watching homemade dance videos to it, i wanted to learn how to actually “walk it out.” so, we downloaded some instructional walk-it-out hip-hop videos and proceeded to try to teach ourselves how to walk it out in the corner of holly’s bedroom. i think biggy must be up there shaking his head right now…
  • and then, yesterday, as we were driving home from Monday night tv fest, we decidedly decided what the closing scene/credits would showcase. as we made our way down the windy state route, we turned up jack’s mannequin and the fratellis and hellogoodbye and sang as loud as we could, as happy as we could.

i guess they all just go to show how silly this little life we lead is, but yet how much fun we have inspite of it. yeah, they’re pretty embaressing, but isn’t that what tv’s all about anyway? i think we can handle it.

Return, return to the person that you were.
And I will do the same
cause it is too hard to belong to someone who is gone.
My compass spins. The wilderness remains.
— Bright Eyes “Make War”

after i found out about the old flame-turned-new-husband, i decided to email him and tell him congratulations. i could have ignored the fact that i knew, but that almost feels like hiding it or keeping a secret. i felt like since i knew, i should let him know that i know, and also that i’m OK with it. to push the awkwardness of it all under the rug.

i did that last year when i was at a weekend outdoor music concert (desdemona festival, for those of you who remember). i was there with one of my coworkers and his friends (a coworker who, yes, i’d dated but who at this point really didn’t want to have anything to do with me, so that made it awkward enough as it was). and i saw the old boyfriend, watching the same stage as me (the VHS or Beta djs) with his girl there dancing. he had a camera slung around his shoulder and looked every bit the same from when we’d been together 3 years before.

well, we both ignored each other. he wasn’t exactly in my line of vision (more peripherial) so it wasn’t obvious to wave and be done. but that kept happening all weekend (at one point, he sat down on the other side of holly as we were sitting at a statue) and we just kept on pretending like we were clueless about it. i thought that was stupid, so at work on monday, i sent him an email telling him so. and that i hated that things had to be weird between us. he agreed and a decent email exchange ensued. nothing deep but, instead, very ordinary, update-y type things. it felt nice to acknowledge what had happened and then be able to react maturely, even if after-the-fact.

so the same was true in this incident. i sent him an email telling him how i found out and that i wanted to pass on my congratulations and that i hope everything went well. the next day, an email showed up from him where he said thanks and told me that they’d gotten engaged in april and had a 4-month engagement till the wedding this month. he caught me up on how his school’s going. he offered to send me some pictures from the wedding if i wanted.

i wrote him back this morning and responded to everything, making pleasantries and updating him on my (slightly static) life. i told him, sure, he could pass along the pictures. but even in thinking it, just the idea of the whole shebang is weird. and so i decided to tell him as much: that thinking that the person i used to talk about marrying is now married to someone else, is just weird. i told him that it’s funny how when you’re so young, you’re so sure of things, but that we really had no clue what it all meant. i told him that i’d never wished badly on him or on their relationship, but that, in a nostalgic sort of way, it was just plain weird to think about.

i want to be able to be OK with admitting those things and putting those things out there, even if they make me look less “put-together” or flawless. i wanted to acknowledge that and get it off my chest, rather than pretend that everything was peachy keen. for the most part it is, and as i’ve said, i have no regrets about any of that nor do i question whether i want him back: i don’t. i know that for sure. but there’s that little voice that says, “he used to love you–he still should! why doesn’t he? how can he move on? why isn’t he still pining?” that’s selfish, for sure. but it’s that little pang that hits that reminds me where we once were (in love) and where i am (not–in love) and where he is now (is–in love).

anyway, he responded and just said that now that he’s older, it’s made him question more things. i kind of just wanted him to say, “yeah it’s weird to tell you, too,” (not to discount what he did say). but i think, for me at least, it cleared the air because i wasn’t sitting there pretending. and i guess that’s a start in this whole lesson about learning what vulnerability means. i feel like that is the season of life that i am in right now, that i’m always going cycles and the cycle i’ve recently entered is one of learning more about honesty and vulnerability and opening up. so if i start to sound like a broken record, bear with me. i’m hoping that part of it sticks and lasts and the next bit of the cycle will make its way in due time.

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