Thursday, March 31, 2011

Friends, Flying, and Non Fartin Fir Fir

For me, they have always started on airplanes.  When I was traveling to China, it started on my flight from Hong Kong to Haikou.  When I went to Ethiopia, I met Tiffany, Laura, and Geoffrey first thing when I flew, feeling deathly ill, from Dallas to Washington, D.C.  I have friendships that have been made in so many different settings, but these friendships, the ones that I have made through mission trips, are different.  They are more honest from the very beginning.   The best and worst of each other is shown almost right off the bat.  There is no honeymoon stage for these friendships.  When people are thrown right into a world containing all things unfamiliar, despite their best efforts to be on their best behavior, after a few days, people's true selves come shining through.

In China, my closest traveling companion was Jamie.  He was a tall, quick-witted writer from Asheville, North Carolina.  He spoke often about sustainable living and music, apparently the only things that the hipster population of Asheville was concerned with.  He made the same joke about roosters on an almost daily basis, and I laughed every single time.  We went from being complete strangers, meeting on an airplane bound for China, to being colleagues, ministry partners, and instant friends.  Chinese food didn't necessarily agree with our American digestive systems, and we both spent hours being sick and wishing that we had an American toilet with a real, actual seat instead of the traditional Chinese "squatty potty".  We wandered the streets of China, and we used our broken Chinese to squabble over the prices of dishes and clothing.  He introduced me to Jack Johnson (who I am almost certain that we both dislike at this point), Jump Little Children, Pete Yorn, and Sarah Harmer.  

In Ethiopia, it was Laura.  I knew we would be friends from the moment that I found out she was a fan of the Weepies.  When we met, I loved her Southern honesty, everything spoken with a perfectly adorable Texas accent that made even her sarcasm sound sweet.  We talked music and movies and boys.  We stood guard for one another outside of a smelly outhouse built out of concrete blocks and sheets of rusting wavy tin, even though she eventually passed on using the outhouse.  I believe she took kindly took the picture of several of us girls standing outside with our thumbs up, signifying that we had survived the outhouse experience.  We rigged mosquito netting around our hotel window so that we could have our window open and still stay malaria-free.  We saved seats for one another and endured endless meals where neither of us felt like eating but didn't feel like starving either.  We packed and repacked suitcases.  We posed for pictures.  We sang songs with kids in tattered school uniforms.  We held little black hands and gave hugs and repeated our names until we just gave up and let the children call us whatever they wanted to.  

These weren't the only ones.  There was Rebekah, my China roommate, my translator, and my friend.  We hung our clothes and undergarments to dry on lines throughout our apartment, a seemingly personal thing that became so commonplace, that we often didn't think to take them down before people came in.  Bras and panties on parade at our place.  And Shawn, my Ethiopia friend that played countless games of Scrabble and was the only one to fully appreciate the hilarity of "non fartin fir fir" on a restaurant menu.  Linda, the tough sounding New Yorker that shocked us all with her petite frame and sweet spirit and perfect makeup-less face.  Tiffany, Kristi, Sarah, Teen, and Danielle... we shared rooms and hairdryers and medicine and two weeks worth of life-changing experiences.

There aren't too many people that I have known for such short periods of time that I am so comfortable with.  But these experiences changed me, changed us.  Kneeling down on a broken tile floor alongside a virtual stranger and washing and rubbing the feet of former prostitutes can kind of change your perspective about service.  There is something unifying about standing and holding HIV positive babies, rocking them and talking in a language they don't understand but in a tone of voice that they do.  In those moments, we looked at one another and held back tears and whispered our wishes to take them all home with us.  We can talk about our experiences with other people.  We can show the pictures and videos and tell stories, but the only people that can truly relate to what we lived were the people who lived it alongside us.

We came back home to America, and we are all back in our own familiar homes and dorms and apartment.  We see each other on Facebook and occasionally in real life.  Jamie is floating around on a ship in the Gulf of Mexico watching for whales and getting a farmer's tan.  He has a girlfriend, and I don't think he is allowed to talk to me anymore.  Such is life.  Laura is in Texarkana, going to school and planning for her next big missionary adventure, no doubt.  Several of these friends have gotten married.  Some are finishing school.  Shawn has been to Haiti so many times I lost count, continuing the selfless service that he started in Ethiopia.  Linda is in New York with her husband and daughter, using her voice to speak up for the less privileged.  Tiffany has returned to Africa already without us, maybe twice.  I don't talk to them often, really.  Distance makes it difficult to maintain friendships the way I would like to.  But in an ideal world, I would sit down with them over a tiny cup of Ethiopian coffee with milk and sugar and talk about how their life is different and how it is the same.  I love that they are the kind of friends that I could talk to as if no time has passed, as if we are still walking along the dry dusty streets of a poverty stricken village, carrying our cameras and backpacks and taking it all in.

Friday, March 25, 2011

I Said Yes.... Part Three

I am writing the next part of our story with lots of thought and careful word choice.  I want to tell the truth, but I also want to be respectful of the people who were so closely tied to the situation I will include here.  Life is wonderful and beautiful, but it is also hard and filled with horrible things we don't understand.  With this in mind, this is the rest of the story.

Two days after I returned from Nashville, I sent Jake a text message.

Me: I would like to take my fabulous boyfriend on a lunch date today or Friday.  Could you please let me know if he is free either day?

JT: I would love to do that today.  Where can I meet you?

It was a beautiful day, and I wanted lunch somewhere with a patio.  El Gabacho, he suggested.  I thought it sounded like a made up place, but he insisted that it was real, and it was.  We had lunch, and we talked about things like jobs and moving.  I made it clear that he was not allowed to move without me.  He nodded his understanding, and I think we both silently agreed that this relationship was headed in the "make no big decisions without the other" direction.  After lunch, we shopped at the little boutiques around the restaurant.  We headed back to my office at the church and spent a little more time together.  It was Thursday, and I had girls Bible study later that night.  I went home to rest, and Jake went to run errands.

I had just woken up from a nap when I saw his text for me to call him.  It was sort of formal sounding, and I admit that I was a little nervous.  I tried to call him, and he didn't answer.  His next text just said "This is really bad".  I called again.  No answer.  Finally, he called me back.  In the calmest of voices, he went through what had taken place that afternoon after he left me.  He had gotten a phone call that no one was answering the phones at North Pointe Baptist Church where he worked, so he went by to make sure things were okay.  When he arrived, Jake and two others unlocked the church to find that the church's ministry assistant and Jake's pastor and friend, Clint, had been the victims of a robbery and physical attack.  Clint had not survived.

Tragedy is a funny thing.  Everyone deals with it differently.  I didn't know what Jake needed or wanted at that moment, and honestly, I don't know if he even knew.  We were in a very new relationship, and I wasn't sure what my role was.  I just knew that I wanted to be where he was.  I quickly canceled my Bible study, and I told Jake that I was planning on coming to the church to be with him and that if he wanted me to go away, he could just tell me.  For five hours, we stood outside the church.   I saw him concerned for everyone but himself.  He expressed concern for all of the people that would be affected by this horrible situation, giving no thought to the fact that he was affected as well.  He gathered his church family together in a parking lot filled with police cars, detectives, and reporters, and he prayed with them, acknowledging that no one had answers but that God was still God and still good.  And in that horrible situation, he showed me who he really was.  He wasn't trying to impress me.  We weren't on a date.  He wasn't putting his best foot forward.  This was who he was.

The days that followed this one were strange, to say the least.  They were wonderful in that I met so many of Jake's friends and family, and I loved having this insight into his life.  So many people loved him.  There was a viewing and a funeral and I accompanied him, not having any idea what to say or do, but hoping that being there would be enough.  And we talked.  A lot.  We talked about life and marriage and we decided that we knew enough about one another to know that we wanted to be together.  Permanently.

In the midst of all of this, we went ring shopping.  I wanted a vintage ring.  An old ring, not just one that looked old.  We checked pawn shops and antique stores and eventually stumbled across one jewelry store that had a good selection of estate jewelry.  I tried on rings.  I secretly looked at price tags and dismissed the pricey ones almost immediately.  The ones that I really liked, I tried on twice.  Jake is a smart guy, and I figured a second try-on was a hint that he would get.  And he did.

We had talked proposals already.  We had come up with a list of cheesy ones.  We had ruled out proposals that included food.  I am sort of clumsy, and I could imagine myself swallowing an engagement ring that was hidden amongst a pile of french fries.  And no text proposals.  That was another stipulation.

The day before my birthday, Jake and I were planning on spending most of the afternoon and evening together.  Though he had made comments about needing to shop for more rings and still needing to talk to my dad, there was a tiny part of me that thought that he might be acting.  When it was time for dinner, he asked where I wanted to eat.  This did not sound like we were setting the stage for a marriage proposal, so I chose to put the thought out of my head and go eat a very unromantic hamburger.  Then we headed to get ice cream, another spur of the moment decision.  Then he said he needed to go by his apartment quickly.  In my head, there was a possibility that we would go up to his apartment, and he would have the stage set for a grandiose proposal and that would be that.  I got a little nervous thinking about it.  Instead, we pulled up to his apartment, left me in the car and ran upstairs alone.  At this point, I decided to wipe all engagement thoughts from my mind.

We got back to my apartment, and Jake decided to help me go over my list of "34 Things I will do before I turn 34", which, by the way, was kind of a dismal failure.  I am still working to finish them.  I WILL finish them.  I was lying on my living room floor with my legs propped up on a table... most unladylike, really.  He was sitting beside me on the floor.  He read each one, and we checked off those that had been completed.  After he read the last one, he said "There's one more".  "Nope",  I argued.  That was the last one.  He insisted that one more remained.  I grabbed the paper from his hands, and written in pen, in perfect Jake Turner penmanship, it said "Say yes to the man who asks to spend the rest of his life with you".  I laughed and said "Well, I will when you ask me".  I looked up and saw a shopping bag shaped ring box dangling from his fingers.  He said "I am going to need you to stand up".  I believe I said "If you are messing with me, Jake, I am going to be so mad at you".  I have no idea what he said next.  Really, I don't.  He kept talking, and I kept thinking Oh my goodness, he is really proposing.  At some point, he put the most perfect vintage ring on my finger and I yelled "But you haven't asked me anything!".  He pointed out that if I would stop talking, he would.  I did, and so he did.

Julie, will you marry me?

And I said Yes.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

I said Yes.... Part Two... Dinner and a Date

The weeks that followed the friend request are kind of blurry.  I just know that after initial contact from Jake Turner and an awkward exchange of a box of blueberry muffins, I was in like.  We met for coffee.  We made dinners at my apartment.  We exchanged stories.  I totally cried in front of him.  We played music together.  We had lunches.  And eventually, after hours of spending time together and hours of conversation, Jake finally said, "I would like to take you out on a date".  And of course, I said yes.  Actually, I believe my exact words were, "I think you should".

And so we began to plan.  He asked on a Tuesday.  I had plans that weekend, both Friday and Saturday.  Going out the following weekend was going to be a problem because I had already planned a trip to Nashville.  I felt bad.  We could've gone out on a weeknight, but Jake works early shifts and it seemed like the weekend was a better choice.  Behind the scenes, he was seeking out first date ideas from friends.  He was planning.  But the closer my Nashville trip came, the more he openly talked about the possibility of our first date taking place there.

Wouldn't it be fun if our first date was in Nashville?
Where would we go?
I wish we could hang out in Nashville.

I didn't think twice about his questions.  We were talking, that was all.  And so I gave him answers about my favorite places to eat and favorite things to do.

The night before my trip, we stayed up too late.  I was sad at the thought of not seeing him for five days, and so I didn't let him leave at a reasonable hour, despite the fact that we both had to be up early the next day.  Me, for a 12 hour drive to Nashville and him, for work.  As a result, I turned off my alarm and was 30 minutes late getting on the road.  I went to pick up my mom who was joining me on the trip, and we headed to Nashville.

Throughout the day, I texted Jake.  I was exhausted and I wanted to see how he was faring at work.  He told me that after work, he was headed to his hometown of Waxahachie to see his family and that he would likely spend the weekend there.  I struggled to stay awake all day.  I consumed large amounts of caffeine, and I did my best to sleep during the few hours that my mom took over driving.  After hours of bad weather, tornado sirens, and speeding a little to stay ahead of the tornadoes that were threatening Western Tennessee, we pulled into Nashville around rush hour.  Perfect.  Just in time to park on I-65 N, which might be the most congested stretch of road ever.  Sitting in bumper to bumper traffic, I took a picture of the city, and sent it to Jake.  I got this in return.

Any girl can read this and use her brain and figure out what I was thinking.  I was exhausted.  I looked terrible.  I had been driving all day.  And with this conversation, I had committed myself to another two hours of driving.  It was too soon in the relationship to be mad, though.  So I sucked it up, and put on my happy face.  And when I said "You owe me", I meant it.

When I finally arrived at my destination, my sweet friend Mary waited patiently as I changed clothes and made myself look presentable enough to meet Jake's friend.  As we drove to Nashville, I wondered at the strangeness of it all, and I decided that Jake and I were going to have to have a little conversation about communication.  I was planning the nice, but firm communication that we would exchange.  

Then we arrived at the Tin Roof.  Mary and I walked in, and walked up to the front where a guy caught my eye and pointed. "Julie?" he asked.  Yep, I found the right guy.  He said he had what I had come to pick up, and he walked over to a small cabinet that was not big enough to hold a guitar.  This situation was growing more and more shady by the minute.  Then I heard a familiar voice beside me.  I turned to my right and looked over to see Jake standing there.  In Nashville.  What on earth was he doing in Nashville?  Then came the confession.  

Jake had never gone to work that day.  At the same time that I was leaving Texas with my mother, Jake was loading up with his roommate who was traveling to Memphis to see his girlfriend.  Jake rented a car in Memphis and drove to Nashville alone to take me out on our first date.  He had set up a place to stay with a friend, and he clarified that he was not there to take away time from me and my friends, but that he would like to go ahead and take me on our first date while we were there.  And of course, I again said yes.  

I had the following day completely free.  Mary was at work, and so Jake and I spent the day in the city that I love.  We went by the school where I used to teach and talked to sweet friends that I hadn't seen in a few years.  We had lunch with my mom and her best friend at my favorite restaurant.  And then that night, we headed to Nashville for our date.  We shopped at Pangaea, my favorite little store in Hillsboro Village.  Then we headed to Cabana for our 8:30 dinner reservation.  Thanks to a Facebook status asking for first date questions, we had hours of conversation about the most random of topics.  We had tea, sweet potato biscuits with fried chicken, salmon, and mashed potatoes and gravy.  Not all on the same plate, obviously.  We endured the noisy birthday party at the table next to us and made up stories about the strange man with huge hair and a paisley corduroy jacket.  

After dinner,  I showed him the way to Love Circle, a spot in Nashville where the whole city can be seen.  It was cold and wet and I had to ditch my sparkly gold heels and walk barefoot across the soggy grass.  We stood there long enough for my feet to freeze and to capture a few pictures of the view.  Then we headed to Centennial Park to see the Parthenon. We took a few pictures there, and then headed back to Mary's house.  As we drove through the city, I took a minute to take it all in... so many things that I liked, all in one place.  

The next morning Jake drove back to Texas, leaving me several days to see friends on my own.  I love the city of Nashville, but I have to tell you that I liked it better with him in it.  Is that cheesy?  Yes.  But it is true.  And when Jake alerted Facebook about how it all went, he made the announcement that would certainly attract a little bit of mocking from his friends.

Driving back to Memphis, then to Texas. The date, you ask? Probably the best thing ever.  

And you know what?   It was.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I Said Yes.... Part One

It all started on a Friday night, sitting around my mother's dining room table.  We were together as a family to celebrate my brother Craig's birthday.  I checked Facebook from my phone and announced, "Who is Jake Turner?".  Everyone kind of shrugged and talked amongst themselves "Do we know a Jake Turner?"... "What's Jake's last name... you know, the guy you work with?".  No one knew.  But here I was with a friend request from him.  Lives in Arlington, Texas.  Works as a Worship Pastor at North Pointe Baptist Church.  Facebook told me that we had one mutual friend, Andy Gullahorn, one of my favorite singer/songwriters.  I checked out Jake Turner's pictures.  All four of them.  Not helpful.  I was almost certain that I didn't know him.  Next I did something that is the opposite of what I normally do.  I said yes.  But as soon as I did, I had to know if and how I knew him.

Me: Hello, Jake Turner, do I know you? :)

JT: Hello, Julie Munroe! Um, you don't know me actually! My apologies for the somewhat weird friend request from a total stranger. I'd just seen that we play music and enjoy many of the same artists. Andrew Peterson happens to be my all time favorite songwriter. And Gullahorn and Phillips? C'mon!

Me: Well then, as long as you promise that you are not a serial killer... Let's be friends.

And so it began.  We exchanged Facebook messages that night, and into the next day.  I insisted on knowing how he came across me on Facebook.  Andy Gullahorn and his wife Jill Phillips were going to be playing a show in the DFW area, and I had RSVP'd on the Facebook event.  The list of people going was short, and while trying to make up his mind about attending, Jake Turner saw my photo and clicked to see my profile.   

Saturday came, and I had rodeo plans with my girlfriends.  There was a little change in plans that made me question my decision to go.  My brother and his wife were in town with my niece and I seriously wanted to spend time with them.  Our church flooded that day, and there was tons of work to be done.  So I canceled the rodeo plans, and I chose to work and hang out with family and then meet up later in the evening with a girlfriend for coffee and live music at the Opening Bell in Dallas.  Then I logged into Facebook and I saw it.  Right there in my newsfeed.  Jake Turner was also going to the Opening Bell in Dallas with a friend.  He says that I made my plans after I saw his, and I might allow him to believe that.  The truth is, I panicked a little.  I worried that he would think that I was following him.  So I sent a quick Facebook message.  

Me: I believe that I am foregoing tonight's rodeo plans that I had and headed to meet two girlfriends at Opening Bell.  So, I thought I would give you a heads up, lest you think I am a complete stalker and following you.

JT: Haha! Super creepy! Kidding. Well, thank you for the heads-up.

And so I went.  As I walked in the door of the Opening Bell, I spotted my ex-boyfriend sitting in the corner.  Delightful.  Glad I dressed up.  Thankfully, we were on friendly terms, and so I hugged him, said a quick hello, and made my way to the line to order a cup of coffee.  I scanned the room and didn't see Jake, but then again, I only had a few Facebook pictures to go from and I had no real idea of what he looked like.  Within a few minutes, he found me.  We stood and talked so long that one of the musicians in the night's line up brought us two chairs so that we could sit.  Eventually, Jake called his friend over to where we were, and the group of us spent most of the evening talking and completely ignoring the musicians that we had come to see.  We closed down the Opening Bell that night, and when we walked out to the parking lot and he walked me to my car, Jake Turner asked for my number.

So there it is.  We officially "met" on Facebook.  And so began a series of yes's that you will hear more about later.  But this was the first.  So, yes, Jake Turner, I will happily be your Facebook friend.  Thanks for asking.     

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Funnest Project Ever (or the blog I couldn't think of a good name for so I decided to exaggerate a little)

Last July, I went with my sweet friend Caryn and her husband Larry to the Allgood Cafe in Dallas to hear one of my favorite singers, Garrett Owen.  So much good came from this one night of dinner and music.  First of all, I got to hear Garrett play.  I love this guy.  He has the most unexpected voice, and his songs are incredibly melancholy.  I love it.  Second, Caryn and I had a conversation about Weight Watchers, and I was inspired to start back for another round of "Try to Lose the Last 15 Pounds".  Such an exhausting game, but I have almost won it.  One of my favorite parts of the evening was the restaurant's decor.  Hanging from the ceiling were strands of a thousand origami cranes.  I fell in love as soon as I saw them.  Tiny little paper birds made out of patterned paper... it was such a simple idea, but with so many of them, it was beautiful.  I asked our server about the birds, and she told me that one of the former employees had her wedding reception at the restaurant.  She and her fiance had folded a thousand of them to use for decoration, and they had looked so good, the restaurant decided to just keep them.  And they were indeed adorable.  I took pictures and posted them on Facebook, determined that I would like to incorporate them into a wedding, if ever I had another.

In Japan, cranes represent happiness and prosperity.  There is a practice of folding and giving a thousand cranes to a couple for good luck when they marry.  They can also be given as a gift for new babies or for teenage girls looking for love.  And while I think that the cranes are cute, I certainly will not be trusting in them for happiness and prosperity.  Even so, I am getting married on May 7 (more to come on how all of that came about), and there will be cranes, my friends.  Lots and lots of cutesy origami cranes.

For a hundred different reasons, my super cool fiance and I have decided to keep our wedding small.  We have chosen to include family only and just a few attendants on each side.  Many of my friends live all over the world and wouldn't be able to attend a big wedding anyway.  There are many people that I would love to have there for support and to witness the vows that we make, but it just isn't possible.  There are people that I have gotten to know through real life and blogs and Facebook that have become incredibly important to me.  So I have come up with a little way to include these people into my wedding without the travel expenses.

My friends, I would like for you to fold cranes.  I know, that sounds like I am manipulating things a little bit to get out of folding a thousand on my own, but please bear with me and let me explain.  First I would like for you to take the blank side of the origami paper and write a note, a prayer, a blessing, a quote, or a verse that you think would be encouraging.  Realistically, if it's a short note, you could wait until the crane is folded, and write it on a bottom section so that it's visible without being unfolded.  Sign your name, then fold them flat and put them in the mail to me.  I will string all of these little cranes and use them for decorations at our wedding and our reception.  We will be surrounded by thoughts and prayers and wishes of the people that we love and that love us back.  You can fold two or ten.  You can use your own origami paper (scrapbooking paper would even work), or I have paper set aside with envelopes and stamps and I will send some to you.  They can be the traditional 6 inch size or not.  Solid or patterned.  I am not particular.  There is just one catch... I need the cranes folded and returned to me by April 30th at the latest.  There are directions on the internet for folding cranes if you have never done it before.  I certainly haven't.  Also, I would like to write a follow-up blog once I receive the cranes, so take pictures while you are folding and email the pictures to me and I will include those in the blog.

This project is for everyone who wants to participate.  There are many of you out there that I have not even met face to face or that I haven't seen in a long time, and I would love for you to be involved as well.  If you have kids, they might want to help fold some.  It might be a fun little family project.  So here is what happens now.

  1. Decide that you do want to participate.  Of course you do, because you are a fun person.
  2. Decide whether or not you want to get your own paper or if you need some.
  3. If you need some, email me at (do not mock the aol email address) with your address and how many pieces of paper you need.
  4. I mail the paper.
  5. You write notes.
  6. You fold cranes.
  7. You send cranes.  (This part is kind of important)
  8. I string cranes.
  9. I have a super cute wedding with hundreds of meaningful decorations created by people that are important to me.     
Easy as that.  I am excited to see how this turns out.  And don't worry, the story on how I went from single to engaged in 5 weeks is coming.  Be on the edge of your seat.   

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Work of Blogging

Before I started writing this blog, I remember the blog ideas rushing at me at the strangest times.  Cleaning the bathtub, ironing clothes, making my bed... and they would just come to me.  And I should have written them down.  Because now that I have a blog, I have days where I just sit in front of the computer, logged in and ready at the "New Post" screen, and I've got nothing.  No funny stories.  No hilarious anecdotes.  No thought provoking messages from God himself.  Just blankness.

If you have been reading, then you know that one of my 34 Things to do before my birthday was to write two new blogs and two new songs.  I was confident that I would be able to accomplish both of these.  And here I am, 3 days away, and I have no ideas for either.  (My car isn't cleaned out either, by the way, in case you are following my progress.  And I haven't done yoga in the park and I haven't had a picnic.  The next few days will be busy ones.) My usual course of action for writing would be to look at my life and sort of evaluate and draw from my current situation.  But the last few weeks of my life?  Well, you wouldn't believe it all if I told you anyway.  There have been a hundred brilliantly happy moments, but there have also been an equal number of horrible, tragic moments and they seem to cancel one another out and cause a confusing temporary numbness.  So writing about that would be the written equivalent of Charlie Brown's teacher's voice.  

When I was 9, I wrote a story for a writing contest that Woolworth's was sponsoring.  I don't remember my mom even doing her grocery shopping at Woolworth's when we lived in New Zealand, but somehow I found out about the contest and I went home and wrote a story.  It remember nothing about the plot, but it included a girl and a dog and a doll.  And I am certain that it had a happy ending.  All of my stories have to have happy endings.  It must have been brilliant, or I was the only kid that entered the contest.  Either way, I won first place.  Four 200 gram king size blocks of Cadbury white chocolate that the store manager kindly allowed me to exchange for regular chocolate. (Because seriously, white chocolate is disgusting and people who love it are crazy)   At that point, I was certain that being a writer was the way to go in life.  Write a story, get chocolate.  Worked for me.  I wrote a murder mystery when I was 12, leaving clues around my house, hoping that the next tenants would find the clues and get a little freaked out.  I painted the paper with tea and coffee to make it look old and I burned the edges.  I was a huge weirdo.  But eventually I stopped writing.  Probably because there ceased to be a payoff.  
Writing is work.  I don't know when it became work, but it definitely did.  I always envisioned bloggers just sitting down in front of their computers and writing magic taking over their fingers and blogs just writing themselves.  This doesn't happen.  At least not for me.  It's hard to know what to write about and how much to reveal and how much to let people see and how honest to be.  But I have learned that taking the chance and being real pays off.  I have found that we are all so much more alike that we believe.  We struggle with the same kinds of fears and insecurities.  And the payoff for me now is logging into my email or Facebook and seeing a message from someone who has read my blog and is honest enough to admit that they have the same problems I do.  And we can commiserate a little bit and encourage one another and feel a little more comfortable in the fact that we aren't alone in our personal weirdness and hang ups.

So for those of you who check regularly to see new blogs, I am sorry for the lack of updates.  I promise to continue to work through it and write, inspired or not.  And if you would like to see more, feel free to send chocolate.  I do believe that helps.    

Thursday, March 3, 2011

8 Down, 26 to Go... update on my birthday goals.

1. Travel to Nashville, Tennessee.
And here.  Finally.


5. Get a pedicure.
Mine are the un-tattooed feet, in case you wondered.

My awesome friend Mary.

10. Go on a date.
 Jake traveled 12 hours to surprise me and take me on our first date in Nashville.  Maybe the coolest guy ever.  
Love this place.

Why? Because the glasses are awesome.

Let Jesus light your way.

11. Eat steak and spaghetti at Demos' restaurant.
Oh, I miss the bread already.

My beautiful mother and her best friend Karen (aka My second mother)

I like this guy.

I love this place.

16. Try some form of seafood to see if my tastes have changed, even though the thought of it makes me gag a little.
Thanks to Jake for ordering the salmon so I didn't have to.  And for the record, I still hate seafood.

19. Watch one scary movie.  Not gory, just scary.  And I will take suggestions here.

I was going to include a photo of me sitting on my couch with my face buried inside a blanket, which was how I was positioned for most of this movie.  I hate scary movies.

22. Listen to my ipod on shuffle for an hour WITHOUT skipping songs. 
No photo available, but I did it.  I promise.

26. Send out 5 handwritten letters.
A fun card for my Mary and cards with jokes for my sweet nephews.