Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category
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A Brief Tale of My Stupidity
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Why God is Awesome
So, put yourself with me. It’s Friday. The show you’ve been working on for months is opening tonight. You’re excited, but you know there is a list of things to do before you can get to your 6:30 call. So, knowing that time is limited, you take the 4:25. You’ve never taken the 4:25, but you know, it stops at your stop, and you’ll be home soon.
While you’re on the train, you do what you always do. Gnarls Barkley is blaring in the confines of your headphones. Tetriminoes gracefully float down the screen of your DS under your control. The world streams by you with only a very small amount of your attention spent on it.
Then you look up. A car dealership? You’ve never seen a car dealership on your route home before. Is that…? Is that a lake?
And it finally occurs to you. You’re in Wakefield.
Allow me to spend a couple seconds explaining the Reading-Haverhill line. The first stop is Malden Center – which is also on the orange line. After that, there are three stops in Melrose, two in Wakefield, and then the one in Reading. I have no idea what comes after that, and I don’t care. Normally, I take the 4:49 or the 5:30. Both of these stop at every stop along the route. But the 4:25 is special. It skips a few stops in an attempt to get up past Reading faster. Well, apparently the part of my attention that I spend on the outside world is only devoted to counting stops, not actually listening to or observing their names.
So, here you are, in Wakefield (as you’ve just confirmed it with the conductor), wondering what the hell you are going to do. You carry the schedule with you at all times, so while standing up in the moving train, you look at the inbound schedule. There must be an inbound train sometime soon, right?
The next inbound train doesn’t hit Wakefield until 5:36, putting you in Melrose at 5:40, at home around 6:00, and late to call by at least a half hour. Well, I suppose you could decide to be on time, but if you did, you wouldn’t get to eat dinner and your costume would be wrinkled.
As a bonus, you really have to pee.
When you get off at Wakefield, you look around. It is a familiar area. You’ve been here before. You know your boyfriend drives by here every single day. Of course, he’s out drinking with his buddies from work and doesn’t answer his phone. He wasn’t your first call, however. That was to your stage manager. You really wanted her to calm you down (or maybe even be in the area and able to pick you up), but she doesn’t answer her phone.
After walking along the inbound platform, you decide there must be another way. You find a bus stop sign. The bus that goes by here does head toward Malden. You could either get off and walk a ways when it gets to Melrose, or you could take it all the way to Malden Center, hop on the orange line one stop to Oak Grove, and switch to the bus that goes by the place where your car is.
If only Haley had taken some lessons with KITT.
Since you have no idea when any bus will come by, you decide you must get in touch with someone who has access to the internet. You call your sister. The connection drops. You call her again. She isn’t near a computer, but she can get to one. She’ll call you back.
What’s that? Does that say “Taxi?” As in, God-send?
But alas, while the car does say “Taxi” it also says “Woburn.” As the couple in the back seat struggle with their cash, you waffle. Is it really worth asking? I mean, why embarrass yourself more. But something keeps your cool, and you approach the car.
“I know you’re from Woburn, but would you take a fare to Melrose?”
“Melrose? Uh… I’ll have to call that in.”
He does, and lucky for you, he has no one waiting for him back in Woburn. Your cell phone rings. You tell him to ignore it. It rings again. You answer, tell your sister to wait and that you’ll call her back.
You spend the rest of the ride to your car, the ride in your car, and the time you spend ironing your costume thanking God for the miracle cab. Without it, you were hosed. With it, you get to your car before the 4:49 would have dropped you there, and you just make it in time for call.
Thank you, God.
The music minister at church emailed me earlier this week asking me to please come to choir practice this week. Now, here’s the thing. I live 45-50 minutes away from church now. On weekends. On a weeknight, during rush hour, it can be anywhere from 70 to 120 minutes. When I told him I was moving, I said I wasn’t going to be able to make it to Thursday rehearsals any more. But he asked so nicely that I decided to go.
I am definitely glad I did.
I saw some of my church friends that I haven’t seen in months. Church kind of shuts down in the summer. Not actually, but no one goes every week during the summer – including me. So we were kind of all glad to see each other. It was nice.
But it’s the singing that really does it for me. There’s something about singing that brings up my inner being. It connects the real me with the world. And singing about God… that just cements it for me. It’s awesome.
I felt really good when I left rehearsal last night. Rejuvenated, even.
I think this will be a good fall-winter. The play, church, a job I don’t hate, a garage to protect Haley from the snow (half the time), and snowboarding.
Yes… snowboarding. That old thing. Mike has wisely decided to go back to skis, but I don’t give up so easily. I will conquer the J-bar, and then the chair lift, and then… you know… stopping. Actually, maybe I should conquer stopping on a snowboard first.
Anyway, I have word that Dave and my sister both want to try to learn, so I won’t be falling down the bunny trails all on my own. In fact, Dave and my sister should both get involved in buying the necessary snow gear. A thing could be made of it. I totally know what people need now. First, and foremost, a helmet. And wrist guards. Who cares if you get cold, but there will be no more hospital visits!
So, yeah, I see good things ahead.
This was an odd post.
I played with glue and scissors and ribbons and fake flowers on Tuesday! Yes, that’s right, arts and crafts! I love arts and crafts. I wish I was actually good at them, but really, I’ve just got a bit of a proficiency at using a glue gun. I can tie mediocre bows, I can’t cut fabric to save my life, and I have a hard time picturing something when I try to make it. But that glue gun – I’ve got that skill down pat.
The past couple Tuesdays, Mike’s sister Kate and I have been going to church to make arts and crafts projects for the church Christmas Faire. (Speaking of which – if you want to go to the Christmas Faire, it’s on December 3rd pretty much all day. Ask me for directions.) We showed up this week with several bags of goodies.
After the football game on Sunday, Kate and I took off for her favorite place on Earth. I’d ask you to guess, but unless you know her, you’d probably have a difficult time. So, I’ll tell you. It’s the Christmas Tree Shops. Yeah, the girl loves Christmas. Not that I don’t love Christmas, just that she loves Christmas. She actually has had to put a stop-loss on her spending at this crazy store. She “only” allows herself to go once a week.
So, there we were, at the Christmas Tree Shops. At least it was a Sunday night, and before Thanksgiving, so it wasn’t super-insane. As soon as we walk in, Kate spots something that excites her greatly – a light-up turkey centerpiece thing. She immediately picks it up for her aunt, who is hosting Thanksgiving this year. At this point, I realize that I’m in for quite a ride.
We went up and down every aisle (except for the furniture section – who needs furniture) looking at all kinds of trinkets and gadgets. We were on a mission. The previous Tuesday, while we were helping out with the Christmas Faire things, the basket people didn’t have enough little things to put in baskets. That had to be fixed, so we each picked up a couple… a few… a dozen… okay, a few dozen little bits and pieces: Christmassy picture frames, kitten picture frames, poker picture frames, decks of cards, toenail care kits, teapots, tea, soap dispensers, hair ties, matchbox cars, day planners, gardening things… Basically, we got one of each. And if it was really cuteâ€¦ two or three.
So grabbed our Christmas Tree Shops bags and Kate took her craft bag, and we went inside. We met up with a lady we hadn’t met last week, who was sorting various bags of donations in the downstairs hall. We helped her carry various bags of stuff upstairs to the Sunday school classrooms.
Upstairs, we found the ladies we were crafting with the week before. We dropped off our basket goodies, and went into the art classroom to start assembling Christmas ornaments. The sense of urgency was minimal, and Kate and I just started making parts and pieces of this cute angel that her mom taught her to make. Kate wound string around a CD case while I cut the buds off of tiny little fabric flowers. Then Kate kept winding string (these things require a lot of string) while I cut up bits for halos and wings. Assembly time came, and some of the other ladies kept “oohing” over Kate’s fabulous angels.
While we were working on these, several other ladies and a couple young girls were assembling baskets for the silent auction. The kids were sitting next to me in chairs that were too small even for their twelve-year-old frames, so I took more interest in what they were doing. They put together an awesome basket of painting supplies from an area paint store where one of the girls’ dads happens to work. They hot glued ribbons onto baskets, deftly avoiding burning their fingers. Later, they were packing little doggie treats into little stockings. Christmas is full of adorable things.
The time went by too quickly, as we gabbed away through our three hours of assembly. Soon, it was time to pack up and go home. We weren’t done, but we had made about 14 or 15 beautiful angels. We’ll have to figure out how to hang them as ornaments next time we go craftify.
As we were leaving, we chatted for a while with some of our fellow crafters. We talked about the town, about the church, about the local newspaper, about life in general. They are such nice people, and I really am blessed to be able to spend time with so many awesome people. I haven’t loved church like this in so long, and I don’t think I ever had so much fun with church.
I got stuck working late yesterday. But I knew about it in advance, so I went in late to match. I have a disdain for people who schedule meetings that last past 4:00 pm. That’s when I leave.
“Whatev’,” as they say, where “they” == one of my coworkers.
I got home at around 6:15 or so, after getting a ride to my car from one of my favorite former coworkers. Yes, I said a ride to my car. It’s an annoyance of having come in late so I could go to a late meeting.
I made myself some quick dinner (quesadias made from leftover nacho meat, if you were wondering), and watched some Celebrity Poker Showdown while I ate. See, some of the real poker bloggers out in the blogosphere hate that show. I, however, love it. But of course, I’m not so good at poker, and I sometimes find myself not changing the channel after the Nightly News… Watching celebrities is like drugs, okay?
Just as Mike got home, it was time for me to leave. I took out the trash (which, I must honestly say, I don’t often do, I’m usually a slacker, Mike’s usually the one who makes sure the apartment doesn’t explode), and got in my car. It’s dark at 7:00 now. Like really dark. Like middle-of-the-night dark. Feels like winter.
I drove down the road and around the rotary, and parked in the lot between the public library and the church. See, I live in what we like to call “suburbia.” We have a “down town” with a rotary, a police station, a Subway (not the transportation kind, the sandwich shop kind), and about twenty thousand churches. Okay, probably more like eight. Whatever.
Mike and I are in the process of joining this particular church, whose parking lot I just turned into. They’re extremely friendly, the pastor is a lot of fun, and they’re open to accepting us. Specifically, in my case, they don’t mind taking in someone who was raised Catholic with a big fat capital C. We’ve been talking to the church leaders, and I really feel like I could fit in here.
You may be thinking, “Hey, wait! Yesterday was Thursday. Church is for Sundays. WTF?” Well, see, I also joined the choir. As you may have guessed from previous posts, I am huge into music. I live music. I breathe music. I sing in the car. Constantly. Whether I’m alone or not. Too bad for you if you don’t like music. And you have no idea how difficult it is for me to refrain from singing in my cube at work.
The choir seemed happy to let me come and sing with them. Again, they are just so friendly. Too bad I can never remember all of their names (much to my embarrassment every week).
The music director is extremely talented. He improvises accompaniment for the hymns and anthems like nobody’s business, and he has a way of getting what he wants out of the voices in the room. He’s very encouraging and a great leader, along with his insanely awesome musical skill.
This week, we got a bunch of new music. Mostly Christmas stuff, and some things for the first couple weeks of November. Apparently, this Sunday, a missionary visitor is coming to church from Africa, so we’re doing some very interesting hymns in languages I don’t know. It really is fun!
All the time while we were practicing “Siyahamba,” I was just… I don’t know how to explain… there. My brain wasn’t wandering, I wasn’t rattling off the lists of things I have to do or take care of, I wasn’t panicking about one thing or another, I wasn’t cold, I wasn’t hot, I wasn’t tired, I wasn’t anything but there.
The closest experience for me before this would be Yoga classes in college. Those one hour classes held once a week were the only period of time that I felt no stress while in school. Outside of that, my brain was (and still is) always on the move. I constantly plan and plot and think and ponder and fret and freak out. It’s just what I do.
But while I was singing these songs praising God and Jesus… I wasn’t. For the first time in a while, I was “in the moment.” I’d say things were clear, but it’s more than that. Other things simply were not in my mind.
We moved on from the raucous music for this week to the thoughtful piece we’ll be singing next week, and then on to a new song for the week after. That new song, by the way, is from Oh Brother Where Art Thou. I know the girls in I-8 have been singing that one recently. It is tremendously fun to sing and just so delightfully simple. All the while, my brain never left the choir room.
When rehearsal was over, I put away my folder and my hymnal. I chatted briefly with Jenn (who I had to ask to repeat her name) and said my goodbyes. I got in my car, turned the radio way up, and tried to maintain my state of mind. I got as far as the rotary before I started feeling my familiar lists and nervousness returning. (Rotaries make me very nervous.)
By the time I got home, the feeling was nearly gone.
Luckily for me, I get to sing at church on Sunday and then go back to rehearse on Thursday, then more Sundays, and more Thursdays…
I may just relax a bit yet.
Sara was my best friend growing up. (Sarah was also the name of my sister and her best friend, which made for some very entertaining dinners when my parents let us invite a friend over…) She lived about a mile away: perfect bicycling distance.
She moved back to my hometown at the end of third grade. I say back because she used to live there in Kindergarten, but she was in the other class, so I never met her then. In the days before she started, my teacher had put a picture of her on the bulletin board, so we’d know who she was when she came. I don’t know how to explain it, but when I saw her picture, it was like I knew we’d be best friends. Maybe I just was hoping, and was lucky.
We did the oddest things when we were kids. In elementary school, we started a club whose purpose was to make miniature floral arrangements out of weeds we found out during recess. In middle school, we were both huge into Star Trek, and especially reading the books, so we often talked about nothing but those books, which we traded so we both didn’t have to buy them all. I own a lot of odd-numbered Star Trek books. A lot. All the while, we’d ride our bikes and meet halfway between our houses so we could ride to one or the other together.
We didn’t go to the same high school. She went to the public school while I was attending the Catholic school in the next town. But that really didn’t stop us. We probably spent time together three or four days a week. We had a couple other friends who were a year older than us (Rachel and Kat) who we would tool around with on Friday nights. Kat was the first to have a car. We’d pile into that little red vehicle of death, put on a sound track from some musical or another, and sing along at the tops of our lungs. We never really had a destination; we just drove. Once I got my car, we alternated turns driving around.
Most weekends, we’d stop at 7-11 and buy pints of Ben & Jerry’s. We’d always forget to get spoons, and someone would have to get nominated to go inside and ask for them. We’d then take them across the street to the church parking lot, and sit on the car eating ice cream. By the way, when I said we bought pints, I mean we each bought a pint. We were all in the “I’ve eaten an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s in one sitting” club. Not that there’s actually a club. Just that, if there was one, we could have been members.
Those girls were my friends, but Sara was definitely my best friend. We knew everything about what was going on in each otherâ€™s lives. We could spend hours together in her basement or my living room just talking and talking and talking. We could also spend hours in either of those places not saying a word.
When we got old enough that our parents stopped restraining our bike rides to just the path to and from each others’ houses, we started riding the bike path across the river together. The bike path in the area where I grew up spanned about 10 miles. We lived around the 2-mile mark. At the far end, there was a bakery that I would often ride to alone (this is why the Ben & Jerry’s didn’t really take its toll so early in my life). At the near end, though, was a beautiful park right along the Connecticut River.
When we went together, we always went to the closer end. When we got there, we’d just walk around in the forest, lean against the trees, talk, and sometimes sing. We were both very big into music. She was an extremely good clarinet player and I was the first chair cellist in the youth orchestra. But both of us have always loved to sing far more.
Most often, the song we’d start with, and usually continue singing for quite a long while, was “Amazing Grace.” We were both very religious at the time, and we had come up with some beautiful harmonies to sing together. We’d sing these harmonies, not for anyone but ourselves, while sitting on the dirt hill that lead down to the river. We only really got “caught” once. A guy in a canoe heard us, and rowed over to the shore to tell us that we sounded beautiful. If I remember correctly, we stopped singing after that.
When we were in college, we still kept close track of each other. And for every holiday we were home, we spent a night talking and talking and talking. She’d come over to my parents’ house, or I’d go to hers, and we spilled out everything that we had been doing, thinking, and feeling since we last saw each other. The last time I saw her, she’d come up to Worcester to see a play I had stage-managed. After the show, we spent three hours talking at a local coffee bar. By the time I got back to Worcester to pick up Mike, the cast party was winding down.
Last night, at choir practice at the Congregational church I now attend, we were learning an awesome arrangement of “Amazing Grace” to sing on Sunday. After establishing the song, it moves into 9/8 time and rolls along with a bit of a jazzy feel. I do love the arrangement, but I can’t help but think ours was better.
On the way home, I turned off the car stereo, and sang “Amazing Grace” with myself. I thought of Sara, and I was instantly full of regret. I’ve lost her cell phone number, and I’ve been too stupid or too shy to call her parents house to ask for it. I haven’t talked to Sara in over a year. That’s retarded. I have to do something about that.
I miss you Sara.
I’ve got to be less stupid about this kind of thing.