Sunday, January 30, 2011

Recently, one of my dearest friend's grandfather passed away.  I met him once, and he was precious... the kind of person we need more of in this world.  Over incredible waffles we talked about her grandfather's life:  her favorite stories, memories, and things she never knew about him after his death.

She told those cherished grandparent stories that make us yearn for the wisdom and perspective that coincides with age, but something she mentioned that resonated deep inside me was his relationships.  Her grandparents never divorced, and they were faithfully in love with each other until the end.  My grandparents are the same way, and I think it's incredible.  I hope to love someone that deeply and share my life so closely with a man I call my best friend.  It's tough to find love like that anymore, but I believe it's possible with commitment and humility.  Her grandfather was devoted to his friends as well.  His college buddies came to his memorial service and spoke about their friendship that spanned decades.  When she told me this, my heart got melty, and I had one of those great images of us as old, crinkly ladies drinking tea on the porch and laughing about the silliness of our twenties, lessons of our thirties, vacations of our forties and beyond.  And I saw us sipping cocktails on cruises.  And being excited about positive pregnancy test results and adoption approvals instead of haggardly-stressful scares.  And our hypothetical children chasing each other and high-fiving in parks (after abandoning the uterus strike, of course). 

Our lives aren't really about the beginning or the end, even though we prepare for births and memorialize death.  We're really about (or should be about, I think) the middle-the dash on the tombstone-the every day stuff.  I want to be somebody consumed with investing the middle in the things and people I love most.  It's a little odd thinking about death and memory as a 23-year-old, but even so, I hope my life will look something like her grandfather's.  Maybe not the Hawaiian shirts (I don't actually own one of those...) but definitely the love and joy.

Friday, January 28, 2011

And My Uterus Goes On Strike.

Earlier this month I blogged about how thankful I am for my job.  I retract my thankfulness; babies are cute but nasty.  And my uterus is on an official strike; we're shutting down business for years (as if it was ever in business...).  Babies are not popping out of that sucker until my late 20s (at least) or early 30s (most likely) if I have any control over it.  Let's make that an affirmative early 30s.  Currently, I don't have much to worry about in this department, but in case the option rises, I am prepared.

One thing that I need explained is how I lived in dorms for the past four years and got sick, which includes everything from a major cold or flu case to seasonal allergies, less than five times.  I had a few days that I felt worn-down, but these could be attributed to lack of sleep, Starbucks opens, terrible cafeteria food, and reading until 2 AM for my lit classes more than a faulty immune system.  Okay, I work with children-the same two children-for seven months, and I've been sick three times.  THREE TIMES!  This week I've held feverish, snotty, diarrhea-ridden children.  Gross.  Also, Cassidy and I were playing, and she crawled right up to my face and sneezed directly into my contact.  That can't be good for the immunity.  And I refuse to get a flu shot, because, well, I'm just that way.

And the teething!  Can someone please save me?!  I'm caring for two, teething infants, and it is a living hell.  The incessant wining and crying.  I know they can't help it, and the poor things are in pain, but 10 hours of straight crying.  And now Finn's trying to bite me to get relief.  Hello, nanny Ash is not an ice-pop.  Beyond the teething the twins are in a jealousy stage and don't like to share me.  This is problematic considering there are always two twins and one Ash.  And then my laptop was pulled off the table by curious fingers after my mug of pomegranate tea.  All things considered, a day with the twins is enough to send me home to my bottle of red.

Men of the world, you'd better head toward another woman if you want to be a dad soon or see that "perpetual glow" on your woman.  I'm not ready for that kind of commitment.  Oh... and I like to have crust-free hair, thanks.


P.S. - As a contradictory caveat, I should add that I am thankful for the nap hours, when I get to read, crochet, and stream TV episodes on the clock.  And for the free food.  And that I can go to work in my ratty jeans and a flannel or sweats.  Those things are positives.  But still... I'm not ready.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Basement Band

When I was a high school sophomore and had few-to-no friends, I tried to start a basement band.  (In Wisconsin it's too cold to play in the garage most months out of the year, so jam bands originate in basements.)  We met at the church youth group, so our music was mostly Jesus-y and consisted of four chords.  The traditional worship stuff.  Yep, we were cool.  We called ourselves "Paradox" and planned to record a demo to send to people and make it big.  We made a logo, too.  And yep, we recorded a song on a Mac.  Oh yeah, and I was the guitarist/vocalist.  Indie rock and roll?  Or not.

(This was my baby... a bright, blue Washburn.  I sold it to my brother to buy a snowboard.)

My neighbor downstairs plays piano and writes his own music.  His songs are about everything and anything, and he favors the minor keys.  He loves to belt lost-love ballads also.  I bet he started in his basement, too.

I write all this today, because I wish I was the neighbor annoying my building with my own songs and boisterously-loud melodies.  My mom was right; I should've stuck with those piano lessons.  And I'm planning, secretly, to steal my grandpa's banjo when I go home this summer... that'll be a trip.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

When people love God together, something beautiful happens.

I am so encouraged by my Bible study group... their wisdom, maturity, patience, and kind (but truthful) words.  We meet in a tiny house on the corner near one of my favorite parks in this city.  Even though we're few in number and different from one another in more ways than we're similar, we want to know God more, understand grace, and love people better; this makes those differences fade into nothing. 

Keeping the faith,  seeking truth, and pursuing the way of God can be difficult; I am glad I don't have to do it alone.

Monday, January 17, 2011


Finn and Cassidy have popped up in several past posts.  In case I've never clarified, I'm a nanny for these two twins.  We spend our weekdays together, and since they recently turned one right before Christmas, I've witnessed many of their first experiences.  Such as:

  • Playing in the snow!  You'd think little babies would find this exhilerating, but it was somewhat overwhelming and... cold.
  • Eating Boogers!  Yep, today Finn chose a booger as his side with the veggie burger.  Oh, that was the first veggie burger as well.
  • Fevers!  Flu!  Diarrhea!  (which we refer to as the "rhea" and requires no further explanation of the firsts...)
  • Crawling, Walking, and Words!
  • Holding Down Babies During Immunizations!  - never, ever again will I do this if/until I have children of my own.  Terrible.  Traumatic.  Awful.  I felt like an executioner.
... and an infinite amount of other cute things.  After all this witnessing, I conclude that some of the most precious things in this life are also standard.  Maybe it's not the act in and of itself but the simple notion that we can do it.  And this is what makes life meaningful.

All these firsts.
All these tantrums.
All these giggles.
All these cuddling sessions.
All these  monotonous days.
They help me understand grace.

I don't get paid a lot of money.  Every night I come home with crusty jeans and a backache.  The weeks are long.  When I have to disclose "occupation," my lip curls out and my eyebrows raise.  In July I'll be glad for a change.  But because of this new understanding of grace, I am fortunate.  And for the first time since summer, I'm genuinely thankful for my job.

Cottage Cheese.

For the past few weeks, I've eaten cottage cheese every day, sometimes twice a day.  As a child I wouldn't try the stuff.  I'm not sure what's happened, but I'm obsessed with it.  And string cheese.  And Brie.  And Mozzarella.  And Half and Half.  And sharp Cheddar.

Explanation?  For the past four years, I've drank coffee black.  And sometime between the summer I counseled at camp and my freshman year of college, milk became the digestive devil within my body.  Being a native Wisconsinite, losing the ability to eat excessive amounts of dairy was tragic.  But I never gave up ice-cream; that was worth every stomach ache, and there are some things a girl cannot do...

I'm not sure what's changed, but I can eat dairy again!  It's the best thing ever!  Drinking milk is still a no-go, but I'll take what I can get.  To celebrate I've composed poetry.  Enjoy it; this occurs infrequently.  And may the world know that this is my first creative attempt since my advanced Poetry workshop in college (I'm not sure what this says about my degree or the major I chose).  Dr. Woodruff, please forgive me?  May these lines make you smile in heaven, and please don't compare me to Billy Collins (or even yourself), because I'll never be quite that good.

Cheese Haikus

Cheese, your smoothness spreads
and melts on the tongue's palate-
A sure digestive pleasure.

Edible with wine.
independent temptation.
Be all the above.

Wisconsin's pride
California's big steal
I claim you surely.

Okay.  I lost it.  And when you write and lose it, you stop right then and there.  

Monday, January 3, 2011

An Open Heart.

As I look backward on 2010 and forward to 2011, I anticipate new joys, changes, and growing pains.  I am eager to see what happens in and around me.  More than anything I want this year to count.  I'm not sure what that means in definitive terms, but the possibilities are huge.  I commit to be open in this next year, and that's a hard one for me.  This means I continue to be plan-less for awhile.  My only plan is to wait and see, to give until I'm tired, and learn to be open.

This waiting is testing and developing my patience.  It's exposing the deepest needs of people.  It's melting dreams into a vision.  It's stripping bare my soul, so it can be consumed with good, eternal things.  It's increasing a deep hunger to live a better story and never settle for a life less than abundant.  It's growing me a up a bit, I think.  It's showing me my weakness and need to be saved.  It's making me want my life to be consumed with more love, because he first loved me.

The sweetness of something new.  It's a good thing.