—Written on January 6, 2017—
The first time I ever felt competent in P.E. class went like this: for the daily “x” number of laps around the school building, I resolved one day to run with the pack of guys at the front, all of whom were at least a foot taller than me. And I did it. I remember it feeling dramatic, filmic—the wind rushing through my hair, my legs and lungs burning, but I didn’t care. I was fast. I had to take roughly twice as many steps as my gigantesque counterparts to cover the same distance, but I kept up. Every moment was agony, but the victorious feeling of success in this elusive area evidently pumped enough adrenaline to counteract the misery.
As we rounded the last turn and began overtaking the final stretch, I went into an all-out sprint. The guys were suddenly behind me, and they were cheering me on (they weren’t normally that nice, but everyone likes an underdog). That wonderful day, there was an orchestra soundtrack to my one claim to middle school fame: I finished my P.E. laps first. One guy actually patted me on the back. I remember being ecstatic and yet truly horrified at how sweaty that pat must have been for him. I didn’t dwell on it. Instead, I kept running…to the nearest trash can, where I threw up my breakfast.
There were other such anti-climactic victories throughout my education. Once, when I had to make up the mile run, I was ecstatic to have pushed myself into a 9 minute mile, only to find out I had miscounted my laps and had to do it again the next time. I won’t tell you my actual time. On another occasion, I found I was actually quite good at badminton, only to discover I was playing it wrong. I will say, I *have* frequently been praised by my teachers for “setting a good pace I know I can finish with.” Awww, shucks.
—Written on August 3, 2016—
Here, I have an idea. I will ride on my worn, vintage-y bike past this worn, vintage-y mural on this worn, vintage-y brick wall. Can you catch me in motion? Make sure my hair is blowing in the wind—no, that’s too much. Oh, no, wait for these cars to drive past so that you can get it from the middle of the street; you have to get the whole mural in the shot. And be sure to get me just before I reach the mural, too. Preferably get me with one leg up and one leg down, so that people can see that I’m pedaling.
Tell the Story
Eight shots, no small amount of tweaking, some filters, multiple caption drafts, and a large paragraph of hash tags later, we have yet another typical Instagram post.
From monstrous volumes of baby books to the series of pictures on our Facebook news streams, we live in a culture that takes a lot of pictures. We would rather snap several hundred pictures of our parties, events, and vacations and spend a ridiculous amount of money on more storage and better cameras than forget these moments. We line up our families in front of the Christmas tree, try to hold our squirming kids still and keep the chaos at bay for just a few seconds while we pose. Or, more accurately these days, we go to great lengths to make our family pictures look un-posed.1 Why exactly do we do it? In his blog post about his philosophy of photography, my husband David says: memories, smiles, and warm fuzzies.
—Written on April 7, 2016—
Based on the principles of physics, a pendulum is always bound to come to a halt. It will be a slow, almost imperceptible suspension in movement, lost in the lull of each swing. Yet to and fro it will continue until the invisible hands of friction and resistance pull it to hover, stationary, in the center. There seem to be some pendulums in existence that may never arrive at a standstill. I have witnessed such a pendulum in the past several months regarding the topic of clothing and modesty, felt its tug as I spectated in the midst of a volley of angry blog posts from prominent authors. The presence of the pendulum is often an indication that there is a greater issue involved. Modesty, lust, and beauty can pertain to issues of clothing, the topic I wish to discuss. However, these are not just dilemmas of the wardrobe or issues involving only women, as they may seem. I hope to create a conversation in which both genders can participate. I propose that, in our Christian culture, the strife regarding clothing is ultimately about worship.
—Written on January 15, 2016—
A greeting. A prayer. A reminder.
I’ve been soaking up some Ephesians 1. I present you a little scratch off that surface—just a simple list of what this passage says about me (and you).
- I am blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. (Every? Yes. Every.)
- I was chosen by God in Christ before the foundation of the world. I was chosen for a purpose: that I would be holy and blameless before God, to the praise of His glory.
- I was predestined for adoption—to the praise of His glorious grace.
- I have redemption and forgiveness of my trespasses.
- I know the mystery of His will, His plan of redemption—I am privy to what God has done, is doing, and will do in the world.
- I have an inheritance.
- I am sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of His glory.
- I am blessed with His grace—He has even “lavished” it upon me.
—Written on October 15, 2015—
Calling a Karl Projectorinski1
To the front of the cathedral
You have won, dear sir
May I congratulate you first?
Oh, what an honor…
With waves of adrenaline causing my heartbeat to thunder loudly in my ears, I clamor to my feet. Each step feels delayed, multiple eternities passing before each appendage comes crashing clumsily back to earth. I make my way to the stage. The lights are so bright and the crowd so dark, it could easily be true that the darkness held no watching eyes. Yet I know that the eyes of thousands were upon me.
—Written on August 3, 2015—
It’s a pretty plant, when it all begins. An invisible root bursts forth into a sweet little budding flower. At the encouragement of sunlight and water, infant vines begin to launch from the stem. You think to yourself, for a few days or a few weeks, that it’s blooming into a beautiful addition to your home décor. But as the sun rises and sets and the water soaks into the soil, it becomes more apparent that you’ll have to prune, even re-pot the plant. It is growing far more rapidly than you expected.
You are likely under the impression that you have it under control. So you care for it, nurse it, and a part of you is afraid to stop watering it. When its vines begin to encroach on the space outside of the pot, when it creeps up your walls and onto your furniture, you enter into a sort of blissful ignorance, even though its thorns are quick to cut.
Your fingers are covered in bandages and your clothes are torn, but aren’t the little flower buds pretty?
—Written on July 26, 2015—
Oh, the money I have wasted on planners that I had good intentions of using—but didn’t. Woe to the trees that have ended up without a molecule of graphite scribbled upon them, tossed into the trash, and no sooner returned to the ground! My Apple iCal app found itself overly color-coded and underly heeded. Every to-do list app I downloaded quickly found its way into the oft-forgotten “second page” of my iPhone. Each of my organizational strategies dissolved as quickly as pen ink scribbled directly onto my hand (also a strategy I tried). My husband is a walking calendar, but did I remember to ask him? No more frequently than I remembered to ask Siri.
With all of this technology, one would think a soul could manage her life with some semblance of organization.
—Written on July 26, 2015—
If buzzing, bumping, and colliding electrons conduct heat, then these letters are the atomic particles that transmit my communication to you. Letters crash into one another, forming words, and words collide to shape sentences until the concept-radiation reaches your mind’s eye. Language, the stringing together of phrases, is the conduction of ideas.
Words are terrifying. Terrifying and beautiful and invigorating and exciting—and sometimes, to the shame of either the author or the reader, they can be boring. Most of the time, however, words are vastly underestimated.
—Written on November 15, 2013—
Our Conductor has very poor musicians to work with, indeed.1
We are a mixed crowd of secretaries, unemployed hipsters, students, lawyers, teachers, and doctors that know nothing about music. In our concert black we might look at least somewhat presentable on the outside… except, perhaps, for the one wearing suspenders, who has very obviously switched out his slacks for dark skinny jeans. Where is his tie, anyway, and how can he play his instrument with his iPhone glued to his hand?
We have been given one direction: “Watch me,” He says. Yet for some reason our eyes always manage to stray, to stick up our cognitive noses at those members of the symphony that misbehave—if the concert is a disaster, it’s because of them—or to frequently survey the audience for signs of approval or disapproval.
Thank goodness the Director is a much better Teacher than we are students.2