Birthday Bananas

Haha!

Forgive me while I’m busy laughing at myself and this week’s photography prompt from WordPress:

This week, focus on dinnertime: share a meal with us, or shoot during your dinner hour. Blogger’s choice!

So the reason I find this completely hilarious is trifold… First, one of my most favorite hobbies is photography. I’m admittedly an amateur, but I’ve been at it for a good thirty years or so because my folks felt it was okay to put their Canon A-1 in our hands when we were wee tykes. I learned to focus manually, because “autofocus” wasn’t invented yet, when I was nine or ten.

Second, I graduated from culinary school. I adore food. I’m one of the pickiest eaters you’ve ever met, though. If I don’t like it, I won’t eat it. I’m a grown-up. I’m allowed to have dessert first, if I choose, and to avoid any food I don’t like. The best I can figure, I have a highly sensitive palette and about 95% of the time I either love or hate a flavor. There really is no middle ground for me. But if I hate it, I loathe it. I find the food completely repulsive. Don’t try to slip any onions in my food. I can smell them long before I get the fork in my mouth and I will pick them out and eat around them.

Third and lastly, I hardly ever photograph food. I’m a hobbyist photographer who knows my way around a kitchen and appreciates a fine meal, but I never photograph my meals. The thought of photographing my food doesn’t even enter my mind, to be honest. I’m too excited to eat the beautiful, tasty meal than to stare at it through a lens! But… this week had a mild exception to that rule and the novelty of the first picture was the impetus for the breach in my routine.

You see, I turned forty. (No, this is not a maudlin post wherein I whine about how old I’m getting–because I believe none of that rubbish. I know my birth certificate says I was born in 1976, but I’m pretty certain I’ve been lied to. I feel and look like I’m closer to 32, or so I’m told.)

My fortieth birthday was Thursday. I take birthdays very seriously. I even have birthday rules. Yes, birthday rules. They are:

  1. Thou shalt not work on or around thy birthday. My birthday is April 14, and I almost always take that date off and very often the thirteenth and/or fifteenth as well.
  2. Thou shalt never lie about thine age. I’ve earned every single solitary minute of every hour of every day of every year… by blood, sweat, and tears, they’re all mine!
  3. Thou shalt celebrate thy birthday as frequently as possible. And I do so with gusto!
  4. Thou shalt stretch thy birthday celebration out as long as humanly possible. As previously stated, my date of birth is April 14… I’ve celebrated in July, August, and October–yes, I’m serious!
  5. Thou shalt have ice cream cake from Baskin-Robbins and the dinner of thy choosing; the order of which thee partakes of these goodies is up to the birthday person. First, the cake is very specific… roll cake with mint ‘n chip or chocolate chip ice cream and ganache for frosting. No, there are no substitutes. Don’t try to pass off Cold Stone or DQ cakes. Nothing doing! Second, I like to eat roast beef, mashed potatoes, and gravy for my birthday. Mom’s recipe only, thank you.
  6. Thou shalt never turn down presents. Duh.

I have two sort of/sometimes rules:

  1. Thou shalt try to travel on or around thy birthday.
  2. Thou shalt attend a baseball game in celebration of thy birthday.

The first rule of birthdays, Thou shalt not work on or around thy birthday, would’ve been enforced Thursday (and possibly Friday), but my boss flew in from Dallas and scheduled meetings. Let me tell you, I had ZERO motivation to work. ZE-RO. But W told me to pick the restaurant for dinner because it was my birthday (he also sang me a very comical version of the birthday song) and I chose Ruth’s Chris Steak House. I’d never eaten there, I’ve eaten at Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak five or six times now and I wanted to try something new. Everything else is too far from the office, so Ruth’s Chris it was.

Birthday MenuMidday, the restaurant called to confirm our reservation, which I did. The young lady asked if it was a “special occasion” for anyone in the party. I am not a convincing liar so I just opted for the humor of the moment, “You’re going to make me rat myself out, huh?” and confirmed it was my birthday.

Here’s the thing with fine dining… Ruth’s is by no means the upper crust, but it’s a far cry from In-N-Out. Fine dining, by its own admission, strives to excel at every aspect of the meal. It’s an event. The devil’s in the details. It’s “fine”…

Birthday BananasWhen we arrived, there was a menu prepared especially for me. It had my name on it! (Yes, I got to keep it.) Our server asked whose birthday we were celebrating and confirmed my name. She referred to me by name for the remainder of the evening. I’ve never seen that done in a restaurant and it’s an excellent touch. It’s an attention to detail. And it enhances the engagement of the patron, and in this case, me.

When it came time to order dessert, I chose the banana cream pie with caramelized bananas. I was thinking it would be a slice of pie, not a pie large enough to feed four people. I literally ate a quarter of it and brought the rest home. It was marvelously delicious, but after a 10-oz. bone-in filet to die for with sides of lobster mac and cheese, grilled asparagus, steamed spinach, mashed potatoes, and sweet potato casserole, I was pretty darn full. It was all incredible and you are looking at the total number of photos from the occasion. I wouldn’t have taken any photos, but I had to text a picture of the menu to my family. And when they wrote my name on the plate–most restaurants just stick with the tried and true, Happy Birthday, and move on–it had to be memorialized as well.

All in all, if I couldn’t celebrate my birthday with family or the friends of my choosing, this wasn’t too shabby. (Don’t worry, the parental units are flying in from out of state next weekend and we’re celebrating Rosie’s first birthday and my fortieth, so it’s all good. Birthday breakfast for the baby and then fancy family dinner for me. I’ll have my camera with me for both of those occasions, though.)

Bottlenecks

#Reverb15: Day 16 (I relish skipping some days–and, apparently, not paying attention to a calendar)

If we were to peek into the book of your year, what might we find?
What magic do you carry that people need to look a bit deeply to see?

The difficulty in trying to be part of an end-of-the-year set of writing prompts is that inevitably, one’s life interferes with one’s free time, a.k.a. writing time. That very outcome befell me. The problem is that there were a few more writing prompts that sincerely interested me. So although I can no longer post to the archive of these prompts, I decided to proceed with these few anyway.

It’s been an interesting year, to say the least. Class, internship, work, a wedding in Boston, a new niece, family, friends, a promotion, too little sleep… a lot was crammed into 365 days. But in the middle of the insanity, there’s been a surprising amount of reflection and analysis. I’m introverted. It’s what we do. Perversely, we almost live for it.

And truth be told, a transformation started about six months before I threw caution to the wind, quit my job, and moved out west (it sounds more dramatic when you say it this way).

I’ve always been ridiculously emotionally reserved. I’m not ridiculous–at least, not in this area of my life–but the level to which I’m emotionally reserved is a bit ridiculous. By nature, I don’t let people inside my head. I don’t share what’s going on. And I most certainly do not cry in front of others. But about six months prior to making some pretty momentous changes, the emotional dam broke. It turns out you can only bottle so much up before ugly crying happens. Whether you want it to or not.

On one of these occasions, I was talking to one of my dearest friends, Jackie, on the phone. I doubt we’ll ever live in the same county, let alone the same time zone, so we have a lot of phone conversations (one memorably took place in the middle of the night her time when I got the time zone math mixed up and called her at an obscene hour). We got into the trajectory of my life and the ways that I hurt deeply.

I’m very good at soldiering through, but that doesn’t erase the pain. It just shoves it down the bottle’s neck. But the thing about bottles is they can only hold so much before they overflow. If you apply enough pressure to what you’re cramming into the bottle, it’ll burst.

And that’s exactly what happened. A seriously ugly cry. Whooie… Seriously. Ugly. Cry.

Jackie is incredible, though. As we continued talking, we got to the part where I felt led to state the obvious: I hate crying! (Everyone is entitled to a Captain Obvious moment in the middle of a breakdown.) She mused that it might be the Lord helping me get comfortable with sharing my emotions. And I think she was right.

I have a lot of emotion. Far more than someone would think considering my previously stated reserved nature. I’m at home in the cerebral, the logical, the rational. So that’s what’s most visible. I’m not the least bit comfortable with vulnerability so the hurts and dreams stay bundled up inside where it’s safe and secure. But that’s not practical in life. Not when relationships grow and thrive in mutual vulnerability.

Part of who I am, who I was designed to be, my essence… it’s rooted in the emotion that I like to hide. Over the past two years, I’ve taken baby steps outside of my comfort zone. I try to let people inside a bit more. Granted, not just anyone is allowed to see my vulnerability. Let’s not get crazy. But the people who matter have seen more of my inner workings over the past two years than ever before. It’s by no means easy, but I do think it’s necessary.

I’m an introvert… I’m relational. And for my relationships to grow and thrive, I have to continue to grow and become more comfortable with my emotions and vulnerability. They’re part of who I am. Part of what makes me me. And I’m a pretty awesome me, if I do say so myself. And that’s what I want people to continue to see. Those who know me well won’t be caught off guard by what they see. They already know me and love me for who I am. But as I continue to let my guard down one iota at a time, the relationships I cherish will strengthen and deepen.

Because what’s inside of me is the magic that is me. And I am just as I was intended to be, on purpose, and wonderfully made:

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:13-14

A Dash of This and a Pinch of That

IMG_0697#Reverb15: Day 9 (I relish skipping some days)

What if you had to give someone a recipe for how to make a YOU?
What major ingredients would be required? What method would you recommend?

How would your je ne sais quoi be recreated?

Ha! I just laughed a little. Okay. I laughed a lot.

Come. On.

Could a chefly writer enjoy this prompt more?

(Yes, that’s me, some lady I couldn’t identify if my life depended on it, and the president of the school (whom my family decided I should date because he loves food trucks, food, and the Dodgers… yes, this is how my family entertained themselves during my graduation).)

NEWS FLASH: IT’S RAINING!

Okay, back to our regularly scheduled program.

Maybe squirrel should be on the list of ingredients? Hmmm…

Alright. Getting serious now.

I’ll admit, the first thing that came to mind is the old nursery rhyme, What Folks are Made of, author(s) unknown:

What are little girls made of, made of?
What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice and everything nice;
That’s what little girls are made of.
(…)
What are young women made of, made of?
What are young women made of?
Rings and jings and other fine things;
That’s what young women are made of.
(…)
What are our mothers made of, made of?
What are our mothers made of?
Ribbons and laces and sweet pretty faces;
That’s what our mothers are made of.
(…)
What are old women made of, made of?
What are old women made of?
Reels, and jeels, and old spinning wheels;
That’s what old women are made of?

What are all folks made of, made of?
What are all folks made of?
Fighting a spot and loving a lot,
That’s what all folks are made of.

I’m good with the sugar and spice; I survived the rings and jings and other fine things stage relatively unscathed; and I aspire to the ribbons and laces and sweet pretty faces era, but I sincerely hope that my life is ultimately remembered for fighting a spot and loving a lot.

With these in mind, if I wrote a recipe of ME, it would look something like this:

The Beth (an instant classic)
Yield: 1 5’6″ brainiac with a hidden heart

CAKE:
2.5 scoops of love
1 scoop of loyalty
1 scoop of compassion

3 scoops of well-packed smarts
1 healthy scoop of sass and feistiness
1 scoop of creativity
2 dashes of giggles

1 dash of tears
1 pinch of squirrel
1 dash of OCD

GARNISH:
1 pair of Vans Classic Slip-Ons (I even wore them to graduation… my “fancy” black Vans)
1 pair of zany socks (oh yeah, there are non-conformist socks in that photo, they’re just hidden!)

  1. Mix together the love, compassion, and loyalty until smooth and thick; set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, cream together creativity and giggles.
  3. Sift together the smarts and sass/feistiness. Add tears, squirrel, and OCD.
  4. Fold together giggly and nerdy ingredients, mixing well.
  5. Pour half of combined batter into a greased baking dish. Carefully spoon the heart mixture into the middle. Pour remaining batter over the heart.
  6. Bake at 350°F until blonde in color. Cake will be white as snow on the inside.
  7. Garnish with socks and Vans (no frilly frosting for this hearty cake).
  8. Best served warm with a bowl of sweet California strawberries.

I realize this is very tongue-in-cheek, but there’s some truth to this recipe.

The highest volume ingredient is smarts. I’m not tooting my own horn here… I’m noting that I exist very much in the cerebral part of my personality. I tend toward being serious and analyzing the daylights out of everything. It’s how I’m wired.

The second most plentiful ingredient, though, is love. Love and the cerebral don’t appear to be likely bedfellows. But they can both exist in the same person at high levels. In my case, that’s true. I have very strong emotions and I’m fiercely loyal to those I love. I would do anything for my loved ones. For this reason, the love, compassion, and loyalty are the hidden surprise in the middle of the cake–the filling you don’t know exists until you cut into the cake.

I went with the creaming method for this recipe because, well, I did go to culinary school and I did study baking and patisserie. Duh. I decided the creativity and giggles should be the ingredients creamed. They’re happy. They’re sweet. And sugar goes with the butter when you cream stuff…

Smarts and sassiness/feistiness can walk hand-in-hand so I sifted them together to ensure a good blend is achieved. Being a nerd doesn’t mean I’m boring. I’m a nerd with personality! So mix that sass with those smarts! The tears, squirrel moments, and OCD are added in small amounts because… as previously stated, I have a LOT of emotion hiding inside of me, but occasionally it’s so overwhelming it has to leak out my eyes; I am subject to squirrel moments, I blame a highly stimulated brain; and I flirt with the OCD line and it actually affects my life a lot. But since they’re not the overwhelming parts of who I am, they’re in small quantities.

The cake is baked until it’s blonde on the outside… because I’m a blonde (look at the picture). I was born a blonde, so it’s okay. And the cake is very white because I, um, glow in the daytime. I’m as pale as pale can be. And I own it.

I rarely wear make-up, so this is a no frills cake. No super sweet icing or frosting. No nonsense, just some garnishing. See, I wear crazy Vans (I have 18 pair right now) and outrageous socks. I joke that I’m a wild woman from the ankles down. I’m very staid from the ankles up, but my socks and shows often clash. And I don’t care. But mostly, I’m comfortable in my own skin so having an exposed cake (not naked) with no frosting is who I am… I run around in t-shirts from places I’ve visited while traveling, a pair of jeans, and clashing shoes and socks with no make-up and my hair in a ponytail. This is my standard uniform. It’s how I roll.

The love, loyalty, and compassion are a tantalizing core. The smarts provide a solidness to the structure of the cake with glimpses of emotion, squirrel moments, and OCD because quirks are part of who we are. Giggles and creativity provide balance for the smarts. And the sass gives flavor and bite–nothing boring here!

Like I said, an instant classic.

 

This prompt is part of the Reverb15 reflective writing challenge. You are welcome to dive in at any time! If you’re catching up, you can check out all prompts so far in the Reverb archive.

The Companionship of Solitude

#Reverb15: Day 4

How can you replenish your (physical, mental, spiritual and/or emotional) resources? What do you need most of all at this moment?

I am not a hermit. I actually enjoy being around people–albeit my people, but just because they are my people doesn’t mean they aren’t people! And I don’t do crowds. Except at sporting events and Disneyland. I am an introvert. Further, I’m an introvert’s introvert.

My sophomore year of high school, my English teacher, Mrs. T (whom I affectionately call Gert because she insisted I stop calling her Mrs. T since we’re over twenty years past her classroom) had all of her students take the Myers-Briggs test. Like most other sixteen-year-olds, I’d never heard of the test, but I found it fascinating. I scored as an ISTJ, Introvert Sensing Thinking Judging. I still have the test that we took, packed in a box with a few of the things that I saved from high school. I scored 9-1 in each of the four categories, but recognized that two of the 1s were scores I struggled with. I was conflicted in those answers.

I took the test again in college and then six or seven years later with work. I scored 9-1 Introvert, 10-0 Sensing, 10-0 Thinking, and 9-1 Judging both times, after recognizing the difference between a learned behavior and a natural inclination.

While the ISTJ personality isn’t uncommon, such lopsided tendencies are–”Oh, goody! I’m special,” she says with great sarcasm. Generally speaking, people don’t score in the extremes very often, let alone in all four categories (I didn’t look this up, my source is a psych PhD that I dated). Beyond showing my innate tendencies, knowing my score doesn’t dictate my life. However, in the area of introversion it provides a glimpse into one of my overriding personality traits.

I am an introvert. And, as previously stated, I’m an introvert’s introvert. My cracks about not liking people, just my people, are really jokes rooted in truth. People wear me out to a such a degree it’s difficult for most people to relate. I don’t enjoy parties, I don’t enjoy work trips where I have to meet a lot of people, even my job itself can take a steep toll. One horrendously people-filled day can take me two to three days to recover. And though you may think I’m prone to overdramatizing the issue, this is completely true.

I liken my introversion to a turtle and its shell. Turtles are never without their shell. Wherever they wander, they bring their shell along for the ride. Thanks to biology and zoology, wherein we learn that the shells are attached, we know turtles have no choice but to bring their shell with them. I am an introvert, and I wear that introversion like a turtle does its shell. When I go into a party, I’m still an introvert and I can’t leave that part of me at home.

Keeping with the reptilian theme, I’m also part chameleon in that I’m a socially adept introvert. My family is primarily extroverted. I have one sister and two brothers. My father is the quintessential extrovert. It was learn to speak up or be steamrolled by the mob. (They’re a wonderful mob. And they’re all mine.) But I learned to blend in… introverts aren’t without personality, we just don’t advertise it. I learned to let my witticisms come out of my mouth instead of letting them roll around in my head amusing only myself. I learned the art of banter and to flirt. In so doing, I became a verbose introvert.

But just because I could blend in didn’t mean the turtle shell wasn’t with me. It’s always there. Where I goest, so goest my shell.

When I need to replenish or recharge, I go into my shell. I hibernate… sleeping, watching movies, reading books, cooking, baking, or enjoying a meal with one friend or family member. I call it ‘turtling’… and I turtle well. (I’m turtling as we speak, er, as I write.) If someone tries to take my turtle shell from me, I get downright combative. I even have a tell… if I become irritable or surly, you can bet dollars to dimes that I need to turtle. I’m worn out with people. In my world, monosyllabic answers are a bad thing. If they start happening with great regularity, tell me to go read a book and I’ll come back a few hours later with a far more Beth-like temperament.

Because of this, highly extroverted people often think of me as anti-social or as a borderline hermit–both are descriptions I’ve actually encountered, unflattering though they may be–but those who live in glasshouses ought not to cast stones. I think highly extroverted people are aliens dropped on the planet with the sole purpose of antagonizing introverts… well, not really, but you see my point. Telling an introvert to just “deal with it” and learn to like a crowd situation is akin to telling an extrovert to go sit in a room by him- or herself for twenty-four hours with no stimulus and just think for the duration. Alone. Both scenarios are equally horrifying and daunting to their recipients. And insulting. I don’t go into your house and rearrange your furniture, so please don’t come into mine and try to move the piano to where the couch is currently sitting. (Wow, I’m very analogous today. And a little feisty, apparently.)

My turtle shell is a comfortable place. And not because I’m hiding from the world, although one could interpret it as such. It’s comfortable because I can be alone with my thoughts. I can work through and process everything that has been thrown at me. The world runs at a helter-skelter pace, as an introvert I process at a much slower pace. Sure, I can analyze data and make a split second decision if forced, but my natural inclination is to mull over it, analyzing it from all angles and processing every last detail. These are things I do from the comfort of my shell. Every little detail gets processed and filed, creating order from the chaos that is life.

If I’m having trouble making sense out of something, there are certain people I will invite into the conversation… family, Jackie, Debbie, LaDawn, Buffi, and Joanne and Chris. These are the people allowed entry into the turtle shell. Turtles’ shells are their houses, right? (Just remember, this is my analogy…) These trusted few are allowed a behind-the-scenes view to see what might not be ordered and filed, where chaos in my life may still be running amok. A “lucky” few have even seen me cry (Chris’ expression the time I burst into tears is one of my most favorite memories of the man… he looked like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming semi pulling three trailers. Is it any wonder we’ve really moved from being friends to him being my younger big brother? (I’m three months his senior.)).

So there you have it… when I need to be replenished physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually, I seek solitude. In my world, solitude isn’t a four-letter word uttered in shadows or behind one’s hand or under one’s breath. It’s a much lovelier four-letter word, one most of us enjoy and all of us seek: H-O-M-E.

 

This prompt is part of the Reverb15 reflective writing challenge. You are welcome to dive in at any time! If you’re catching up, you can check out all prompts so far in the Reverb archive.

Plodding Along

#Reverb15: Day 2

What surprised you this year?

This year has plodded along much as any other year. I’m another year older, another year wiser (in theory, anyway). I read books, watched movies (and still am catching up on this one), experienced sleep deprivation, and worked to catch up on said loss of sleep. I spent as much time as possible visiting and playing with the littles. I made it a priority to spend a minimum of one weekend a month with my honorary family in Corona. I was loved on by a crash of little people that I positively adore. I got up five days a week and went to work. I cooked, I baked.

But just as the plodding pace of life is completely normal, so are the screwball lefts it can throw you.

Shortly after the start of the year, I was promoted at work–from supervisor to program manager, answering directly to a vice president. Normally, this type of promotion wouldn’t come as a surprise to someone. However, it was a complete surprise to me as it’s not a promotion I applied for. I was a supervisor one day when I arrived at work and a program manager when I left to go home. And a ridiculous amount of stress accompanied this unexpected promotion. Further, I was balancing an internship requiring thirty hours of my life every week. With my job demanding upwards of fifty-five hours per week, I think it’s nothing short of miraculous that I survived.

I had a second job-related surprise at the end of August. This surprise, while no less shocking, proved to be an absolute Godsend. I was promoted again and, interestingly, in much the same fashion as the first promotion. The difference is that I walked into the office one morning as a program manager and walked out as a member of executive management. Essentially, I’m the director of project management and finance, but we’ve never actually settled on an official title. In my new job, I have a myriad of duties, but I rarely require more than an eight-hour day to get them done. I cannot begin to express the sigh of relief that accompanied this unexpected promotion.

While both of these surprises were completely unexpected, this is highly unusual for me. My life always leans toward the routine. I’m not a spontaneous person by nature. I’m lists and plans. I certainly have people in my life who live in the moment, but until July, I had no time for anything even remotely resembling spontaneity. It was all I could do to survive as I balanced my internship, work, sleep, and meals. I barely had time to see family.

I’m hopeful the surprises of this coming year have less to do with an unintentional rise up the corporate ladder and more to do with adventures, laughter, and relationships.

The tricky part is my aversion to surprises… should be interesting!

 

This prompt is part of the Reverb15 reflective writing challenge. You are welcome to dive in at any time! If you’re catching up, you can check out all prompts so far in the Reverb archive.

A Long Answer for a Short Question

#Reverb15: Day 1

What sorts of lists do you have on the go at the moment? What do they suggest you are praying for?

Oh, gosh… is this a trick question? Do they know me?

I love lists. Love.

When I pack for a vacation, the first thing I do is pull out a pad (it has photos of the small fry and baby girl and says, “my little loves”… yes, there’s one photo of the littles sitting with Auntie Beth in the bunch) and write a list. I write down everything I need to pack. Clothes (down to underwear… because you don’t want to forget those), toothbrush and toothpaste (although, I should probably put my travel toothbrush back in my go-bag (yes, I have a go-bag)), jewelry (a girl must have her sparklies), meds (of which I have more than my fair share), laptop (can’t forget Sean… my laptop is more well-traveled than some people), iPod (no forgetting the tunes), iPhone (I have forgotten it, writing it down helps), my purse (a girl can’t be too careful), and everything else I think I’ll need. It’s written very small and I group various items together for efficiencies. I take the list with me and use it to pack up for the return trip so I don’t forget anything.

I write a list every afternoon/evening before I leave work. Today’s wouldn’t make much sense to most of you:

    • contacts
    • DCMR to N
    • Load Analysis
    • DOI to DOI
    • 5-day Monthly to USA U— (redacted so I don’t get fired)
    • Functional Scorecard to VP –> W –> clients
      • get subro, salvage, and T/L trackers
    • Operational Scorecard to VP –> W –> clients
      • get subro, salvage, T/L, and SIU trackers
    • Action Plan training
    • AUDITS
    • AU billing
    • Lunch on 12/17 – V to choose (W, S, F, V, V, M, D, B)
    • Metro – w/i 60 days

I literally pulled out a white sheet of paper and with a blue Papermate pen, wrote this list longhand before scooting out of the office tonight. I’ll get at least four of these items completed tomorrow, probably five, and make serious headway on two more. I tell everyone that if you want me to get something done, let me write it on my list. It’s how I keep my sanity at work. Lists!

Sometimes we have lists in life, too… the kind that aren’t a to-do list to be completed by sundown. I have some and, yes, they sometimes coincide with my prayer life. If you don’t know, I’m an evangelical Christian. Don’t run! I seldom preach on my blog. I seldom preach in life, for that matter. I’m not confrontational with my beliefs, I’m conversational. Meaning, I will bring it up in conversation, but in the context of something I’ve been thinking about or struggling with. And I will engage in a conversation when asked. I firmly believe that we can agree to disagree without disrespecting the other person so I won’t be browbeating you into believing as I do. You’re an adult, you’re responsible for any consequences that may arise from your beliefs. Just as I am. <stepping down from the soapbox>

Anyway, as an evangelical Christian, I believe God takes a keen interest in the comings and goings in my life. He is intimately aware of and involved in everything that happens. As such, He and I have conversations regarding said comings and goings. Or lack thereof, as it were.

Some of the broader lists that I keep in my head relate to my life and its direction. I have lists of things to do before I move back to Colorado… not in the packing-up-my-life kind of way. I’m talking about the conversations I want to have with people in California who are near and dear to my heart. Things I want to see and do before I drive 1,100 miles across the country. Memories I want to make.

I have lists of characteristics I hope for in a future spouse and names I would like to name my future children.

I have lists of places I want to visit and photograph, castles and historic locations I want to explore and vistas I want to paint through the lens of a camera.

I have lists of movies I want to see (if you don’t know that by now, you need to have your head checked).

I have lists of books I want to read (and reread (and reread again)).

Some of these don’t get any action when I’m praying… like the books and movies. The Lord knows reading is my most favorite hobby, but I’ve never prayed about it. I just open a book and submerge myself in the story. (It’s glorious!) Nor have I ever prayed about a movie. Not even the new Star Wars flick.

I sometimes pray about traveling… usually when I’m packing up to leave, or while I am traveling. But it’s more for safety and whatnot.

The other stuff? Yeah… I do pray over those.

See… when I grow up, I want to be a full time wife and mommy. That’s my biggest, most audacious dream. Maybe it sounds old fashioned, but it’s true. And it hasn’t happened for me yet. The Lord and I have spent many hours discussing this. Much of the conversation on my side can involve questions beginning with, “Why…” and, “How come…” because those are the questions that roll around in my head. I don’t know why the right guy hasn’t come along just yet… I’m not the one directing traffic. But that has never stopped me from my lists.

My brother and sister-in-law actually chose one of my most favorite names for baby girl. The name had been on my list for years. When Adri was pregnant, they told me they were interested in the name… she doesn’t remember the three of us talking about this in the car, but she recalled a conversation wherein I had expressed a deep interest in the name. She asked my permission to use it if they had a girl. I didn’t even think about it. The answer was a resounding, “Yes!” A few months later, one of my favorite nieces came into the world and she’s been everything I could’ve hoped for in a little (what we call the kids) bearing that name. It’s been scratched off my list, but I wouldn’t change a thing. And I keep praying that I’m blessed to use one or two of those names on my list.

I also pray for the right guy… one who embodies a handful of the characteristics on my list of traits. A guy who loves me for who I am, who is on a first name basis with his sense of humor, who is smart, who has a strong personality, who will tell me, “No,” and then stick to his guns, who is decisive, who understands my introversion… a guy I love and respect, among other things.

I pray about other stuff, but no one asked about that stuff. But I do have lists that directly relate to my prayer life. I think it’s unavoidable… if you’re a person of prayer, various things in your life will be touched by it. And lists are not exempt!

 

This prompt is part of the Reverb15 reflective writing challenge. You are welcome to dive in at any time! If you’re catching up, you can check out all prompts so far in the Reverb archive.

Give Me Sleep!

Deplorable… I skipped an entire month. However, this time I’ve been having a life. Novel concept, right?

Since the last time I wrote, I’ve visited the littles (and their parents), spent four days in Phoenix on business, flew home to Colorado for a weekend and to celebrate the peanut’s first birthday, camped at Chris and Joanne’s for a weekend, spent a weekend cooking (scratch made chicken noodle soup, chicken chimichangas, chicken tortilla soup, and almond-crusted chicken–all packed up for lunches and dinners to be consumed over the next two weeks), and worked no more than forty-five hours a week. I know! Right?! Forty-five hours a week? Actually, I’ve even pulled a 40-hour work week. More novel concepts…

Suffice it to say, I’m loving the new job. And the lack of a jangling telephone on my desk. I have a phone on my desk, but it rings only about one time a day. AWE-SOME!

In the midst of all of this, I have a sneaking suspicion my body has decided it’s no longer in peril and allowed to relax… after two years of extreme stress and sleep deprivation. I start yawning at 4:00 p.m. and am ready to go to sleep around 7:30 p.m. every night. I stretch it out a bit longer because I don’t relish waking at 2:00 a.m.–sans alarm clock. No bueno. But I have been sleeping like a champ!

In between the traveling and sleeping, I’ve been chipping away at my audacious movie list. There haven’t been any new additions, so here goes the list:

  • 42
  • 50 to 1
  • American Sniper
  • Argo
  • The Best of Me
  • The Best of Men (not a redundancy with a typo, it’s a real movie)
  • Black or White
  • The Book Thief
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • Far from the Madding Crowd
  • The Final Season
  • The Flying Scotsman
  • Foxcatcher
  • Fury
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • The Hundred-Foot Journey
  • The Imitation Game
  • Inside Out
  • Into the Woods
  • Invictus
  • John Wick
  • The Judge
  • Kingsman: The Secret Service
  • Leatherheads
  • Madison
  • Maleficent
  • McFarland, USA
  • The Mighty Macs
  • Million Dollar Arm
  • The Monuments Men
  • Philomena
  • Spare Parts
  • Taken 3
  • The Theory of Everything
  • Trouble with the Curve
  • Unbroken
  • United
  • We Bought a Zoo
  • When in Rome
  • When the Game Stands Tall
  • The Wolverine
  • Woman in Gold

If not for the travel, I would’ve made it further through this list, but I’m okay with my current status. And the combination of films is interesting, to say the least.

I watched Far From the Madding Crowd just this evening. Based on a Thomas Hardy novel, it stars Carey Mulligan as the primary protagonist, Bathsheba Everdeen. Poor thing, her folks died before she could find out why they christened her with such a handle. Bathsheba, not Carey. The film is a period peace and I enjoyed it… aside from the whole marrying-the-wrong-guy thing. You know, she married a pinhead who has honed the skills of jackassery while being unknowingly in love with a noble, humble fellow. Oops. Ms. Mulligan was completely believable in the part, as were the various gentlemen cast in the film.

Taking a broad turn, I also saw Foxcatcher. That is one seriously eery and disturbing film. First, it’s based on the true story of gold medal freestyle wrestlers for the United States, Dave and Mark Schultz, and the murder of the elder brother, Dave, by billionaire John DuPont. What makes the film eerier is that my dad sold a VW bus to Mark, prior to Dave’s murder. I grew up around freestyle wrestlers. Olympic wrestlers. Dave and Mark were friends and teammates of a dear family friend. A friend who is a beloved member of my honorary family. I’ve heard about the Schultz brothers every so often for all of my life. I distinctly remember DuPont’s murder of Dave and his attempts to barricade himself in his mansion in January of 1996. Weirdly, I think of it whenever I happen to see Jeff Gordon’s car in a NASCAR race (no, I don’t make it a point to watch NASCAR, but Gordon used to have the prettiest car on the track… the DuPont car… yes, I called the car pretty… I went there). Watching DuPont psychologically devolve was disturbing.

I also saw John Wick. I know, I know… you’ve never heard of this film. Well, take Sam Mendes’ masterful Road to Perdition (it starred Tom Hanks, Paul Newman (he was robbed of an Oscar!), Jude Law, and Daniel Craig (he wasn’t very James Bond-y… he’s pretty despicable!)) and recast it with Keanu Reeves in 2014. Yeah… about that. Just watch Road to Perdition. The acting will be far superior and the story line a bit more plausible. A bit.

Million Dollar Arm is the next film in the based-on-a-true-story-Disney-sports movies. A sports agent, J.B. Bernstein, got the crazy idea to run a contest in India wherein cricket players were scouted for potential as Major League Baseball pitchers. It ended up successfully finding two gentlemen with skills. As expected, I enjoyed it. Invincible, MiracleRemember the Titans, and The Rookie are better, though.

Trouble with the Curve is a film I’ve seen before and love. Saw it again. Still love it. It has a great story line involving the dysfunctional relationship between an aging baseball scout and his highly successful attorney daughter, played by Amy Adams. John Goodman and Justin Timberlake have additional rolls of import in the film. It’s very well acted, humorous, poignant, serious, and very baseball-y!

Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I The most impressive film of the group is Woman in Gold. Starring Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds, Jonathan Pryce, Frances O’Conner, and Elizabeth McGovern, it is the true story of a Holocaust survivor who, with her husband, fled Germany with literally the clothes on her back. They ended up in Pasadena, California. Upon the death of her sister, Ms. Altmann decided to reclaim a group of Gustave Klimt paintings owned by her family prior to their illegal seizure by the Nazis. Ryan Reynolds plays attorney Randy Schoenberg, whose family also fled the Nazis and have known Maria’s family for four generations; he represented her throughout the process. The Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I was the most impressive of the Klimt paintings, and a portrait of Ms. Altmann’s beloved aunt, Adele Bloch-Bauer. The painting is also referred to as the Woman in Gold, thus the movie’s title, and was one of the most famous of Klimt’s works even prior to the case. And a bit of trivia, Klimt was a dear family friend. The film was absolutely fantastic. Fan-tas-tic. Well acted, compelling, true. <sigh> I bawled like a baby at the end of the film. Like. A. Baby.

So there you have it… progress.

And now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to sleep.