Do You Know What Breve is?

Sometimes I really wish I had made different decisions in my life.  I wish I had gone to a different school and made different career choices.  I wish I had been more rebellious, instead of stuck in a Christian bubble that made me think God was telling me to be a youth pastor, thus altering the whole course of my life.  Because I could have been anything.  I could have gone to school to get a real career.  I was smart enough.  I was almost a 4.0 student in high school and college.  But instead I went to Bible college.  And my degree is almost worthless, as far as living my dreams or having a fulfilling career go.  I realized real quick that I’m not meant to be in ministry, and that I would actually be miserable there.  I had heard wrong.  I wish I had gone somewhere to get my degree in English or creative writing or something, so I could have maybe been a teacher, so maybe I would have an impact on someone else’s life.  Or maybe that I would have gone immediately to school to study counseling or psychology, because those have also always been interesting to me.

And I know that if I had made different choices in my life, not only my life would have been affected.  I never would have met Michelle, and she never would have moved to Mammoth.  I never would have moved to Alabama and met the best boyfriend ever.  My friend Sarah probably would have never met her boyfriend.  There’s a lot of things.  So maybe I’m selfish, wishing things were different.

Today, a woman told me that I didn’t know what breve was (half and half).  She explained to me that it wasn’t milk, it was cream (even though it’s half whole milk, and half heavy cream, so technically it’s both).  She told me she wanted more breve in her drink, that was made out of breve.  You can’t add extra water to a full glass of water.  You can’t fill a cup above capacity.  I can’t add more humanity to my humanity.  It does not make more, it just fills up.  So she tried to imply that I was stupid.

I am an intelligent human.  I might be more intelligent than most of the people that I’m surrounded by.  But I didn’t do anything with that intelligence.  Instead, I work at Starbucks, with a wasted college degree, somewhere much too far from home.

I could have been anything.  Instead, every stranger automatically assumes I’m beneath them.

I miss home.  I miss my people, my church, my community, my family.  I wish things had been different.

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In Conclusion

You may be unaware of this, but I have been unintentionally angry with God for quite some time now.  I’m not sure when it started.  It’s kind of like he’s that friend that you want to be mad at, and then he does something wonderful and you’re like, oh right, you’re actually great, I’m just being a beezy.  So I was mad for a lot of college, but after I graduated and moved to Mammoth and got to spend almost a year just listening to his voice, I fell back in love with him.  I remembered what it’s like to have a good relationship with a loving God.
After I came back from Ireland, which might possibly be the highlight of my entire life, I wanted to move right away.  I tend to try to rush God.  And really, it might not have been God at all that kept me from moving in October.  I stayed for the winter.  And really, it was a fantastic winter.  But I pulled away.  I pulled into myself.  I became someone else temporarily.

Being in Florence, I’m learning to find myself again.  I’m learning to listen again.  But all of this is just digression to the story I want to tell today.

Last Monday I flew back to Nashville from Reno via LAX.  I knew that when I landed in Nashville I would have to get an uber or a taxi to get back to my car, because my flight was delayed so much that the shuttle would no longer be running.  I also knew that I had barely any money left to do this.

On my second flight I sat next to this girl who kept catching my eye.  If you follow me at all, you know that I do my best not to talk to strangers unless they first address me, and even then I get awkward.  I’m not good with small talk.  So this girl caught my eye.  Our plane took forever to get clearance to take off, so we kept taxiing around the runway and I realized that she was editing photos on her phone using the same app that I use.  I always edit photos on planes too, because it gives me something to do.  This is not that strange of a thing to have in common though.
Then (I’m such a creeper) she started going through her music on her phone and picking songs to listen to on spotify.  We have the same taste in music.  Again, not that strange of thing to have in common, except that I listen to a lot of folky indie music.  She started working on editing a short film on her computer, mostly just the title sequence, and I was trying so hard not to watch her as she did this, but I couldn’t stop noticing this girl.
Finally, they came around and asked what we wanted to drink, and I almost always order coke on planes.  It kept running through my mind that this girl and I were cut from the same cord, and then she ordered a coke.  And we both got a second bag of pretzels.

As the flight went on I tried to fall asleep, but God kept speaking to me about this girl.  I felt that if I didn’t write her a note that I would regret it.  So I grabbed my notebook and wrote to her, telling her that God was speaking to me, possibly, and that she didn’t have to believe me and I told her how I never do this and that I would understand if she thought I was crazy.  I told her how I had been angry at God, but I needed to write to her anyway.  I told her what God was saying to me.  I said if she ever needed help from a stranger that she could email me, and I gave her my email.  Then I folded it up and put it on her tray, while she had her head in her hands during the turbulence.  I went back to my music, stared out the window, and tried to fall asleep.

About ten minutes later, maybe twenty minutes before the flight landed, she tapped me on the leg.  She said that the note was exactly what she needed to read, and that I had no idea.  She asked me my name and told me her’s was Molly.  We talked about her school, how she’s in her last semester.  We talked about how she grew up in the south, but she wanted to break free from it, and talked about how I was trying to embrace it.  We didn’t really talk about God.
Molly asked me how I was getting back to my car and I told her that I honestly didn’t know.  She said her mom was picking her up and then they offered to give me a ride.  These strangers drove me the 8 minute ride to my car all because God made me a creeper on the plane.

God is all about connection.  Connection to him.  Connection to the people around us.  I think I’ve been so angry because I’ve forgotten that.  I was so stuck in my own reality, in my own social anxiety, that this connection terrified me.  Really, he just wants us to be able to enjoy the life he gave us, and he gives us the tools to do this.  We just like to do it on our own so often.

In conclusion, once again God has taken care of me.  And once again, I will do my best not to forget it.  He’s great.  You’re great.  I’m great.  We’re all great.  Also, I’m tired and losing my train of thought.

Feeling Finnish

I used to live with a girl from Finland.  One of the best roommates I ever had, really.  Anu was amazing in a lot of ways, and taught me a lot about her culture, as she learned to understand mine.  She would often joke that I was Finnish because of my introverted nature.

Finnish people do like to party.  It’s just that they like to party with their friends.  Suddenly becoming friends with someone new is a rare occurrence.  Not that they don’t make friends, they just don’t talk to strangers.
If it weren’t for my job, I wouldn’t talk to strangers.
And they don’t make small talk.  Even working customer service, all conversation is minimal.  If someone comes through your line and you’re a cashier, there’s no need to discuss the weather or ask how someone is.  You ring them up and let them go.  Anu used to tell me how she didn’t understand why someone she didn’t know, or barely knew, would want to know how she is.  Whereas in America, asking someone how they are is a greeting, albeit a fake one.  Very rarely does anyone actually care how you’re doing, and they don’t really expect an answer.  We ask so many meaningless questions here.

I just moved to Alabama from California.  Although I’m an introvert and don’t do well in parties where I don’t know everyone, back home I was fairly friendly.  People describe me as nice, as kind, as sweet.  I’m not really a rude person, especially not on purpose.  Because I have worked in hospitality for the last couple of years, I’ve learned to be a little bit more outgoing.  I can talk to guests, ask them how their day is while I’m checking them in; ask them how their stay was when they check out; see if there’s anything I can do to make their time in my town more enjoyable.  But I don’t go much farther than that without a connection or a reason.  I run out of questions.  I suck at small talk.  Because I literally don’t care.  If I don’t know you, my heart is not genuinely concerned about your drive or your complaining because it’s raining outside.  I was telling a girl from my church that I am the least friendly person that I work with, because I’m from California.
In California, you’ll smile at someone when they walk through your lobby.  You’ll say hello to them.  If they look like they need help, you’ll talk to them.  Otherwise, you leave pretty much alone.  You want everyone to be happy, but that doesn’t mean you go out of your way to be their friend.  Or maybe it’s just me.  Californians are pretty judgmental anyway.
I missed church on Sunday, a church that I have been going to for a month, because I was at work.  But a friend of mine was playing a concert that night, so I saw a lot of people I would have seen that morning.  And multiple people asked where I was that morning.  If you miss church in California, everyone assumes you’re out of town, or that you had something else going on.  They might care that they missed you, but people come and go as they please.
So out here, in Florence,  I feel a little Finnish.

Road Trip With Me: Making Adventures

The other night I slept in my car at a rest area alone, for the first time ever in my life.  I’m not going to say I wasn’t scared or lonely, but it was an adventure.
An hour or so earlier, I was driving through Utah,  and I saw a sign that said “Dinosaur footprints at Johnson Ranch, next right.”  So I got off the interstate and followed the signs.  However, I had just hit the time change, so the place was closed by the time I got there.  I bought myself ice cream at a gas station and drove until my eyes couldn’t see well anymore.  After dusk, it’s often hard for me to see, so I don’t feel super safe driving in unfamiliar places all the time.  Never really realized it was an issue until now, but I digress.

The next day I set out for Denver.  I had reservations at a dinosaur themed hotel for two nights, and one of my oldest friends lives in Denver with his girlfriend, so I knew it was gonna be a good stop.  On my way I saw a sign that said “Dinosaur Museum.”  So I decided to try this spontaneous adventure thing again.
It was open.  It was tiny.  I paid $9.  But it was so worth it.  I don’t know why, but dinosaurs give me such a simple joy.  It did delay my getting to Denver and dinner until 6:30/7pm, but who cares.
I met up with Cristian and his girlfriend and we had dinner.  It was more than good to see a familiar face.  I went back to my hotel and slept.  I wanted to relax and sleep in for once.
I got up late and set out for the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.  I saw dinosaurs and went to a history of chocolate exhibit.
I drove to downtown to wait for Cristian to get off work.  Two strangers told me I was beautiful.  I decided Denver was kind.  Cristian and I got dinner and struggled to find my car.  I took him home and we said goodbye.

Today I really slept in.  I drove into Kansas.  After 5 or so hours of driving (with stops) I started to feel weird.  I took myself to a movie, which wasn’t as good as I hoped it would be.  I was feeling very uncomfortable, and I didn’t want to drive further, so I got a cheap motel room and I currently feel very stupid and alone.

I am further from home than I have ever been alone.  Saying goodbye to Cristian meant saying goodbye to the last person that I’ll see in a long time that knows me.  I wasn’t afraid for this adventure at all.  But now I am.  Because now there really is no turning back.  Now, if I made the wrong decision, I won’t know where to go or what to do.  I can’t just call my dad if my car breaks down.  I can’t expect my brother to come rescue me from a snow storm, or for Michelle to be able to watch a movie and just be with me.  I have to make it on my own now.  And even though I know for sure that I can do it, I am suddenly terrified.  What was I thinking?  Why did I do this?
Oh right, I was called.  I followed God.  I followed my heart.  I’m crossing things off my bucket list.  I’m making life an adventure.  I just wish I didn’t feel so alone and stupid.

When a Stranger Speaks Your Name

I’ll rest in this a while
Although I’m not sure what this is
A stranger passing spoke my name
Without ever saying a word

I find myself unable to move
Carrying a weight of a land that I never knew was home
My heartbeat is this rhythm
The beat of the rain on the roof over my head

There is a love here that took me away
A longing that aches for a return that is on its way
Could you ever know it?
Wake up and hear this song

These words slap you across the face
Yet gently tuck you into bed
Somewhere safe to lay your head
As you belong here

A welcoming with open arms
An unexpected arrival
A pasture to lay down in
Sectioned off fields of fairness

Floating through every step
As if a ghost lives inside of me
Maybe it’s time to start listening
When strangers call my name

Whispers of warmth tracing across the cracks in this cobblestone heart
Hearing angels pulling at the seams
Take off your coat and feel the mist
Be ready to experience a homecoming

You don’t have to know where you are
In order to know that this foreign land is your home
Your entire life you have been on holiday
Let the prodigal return

Ireland waited for you
Embraced you in her loving arms
Not ready to let you go
Hear her in the whispers of strangers

Only a Dream

The dreams have gotten more incessant as time has gone on.  They’re even worse and more common now than ever before.  The last few weeks I have woken from every sleep to terror and sweat, worrying that something is wrong with me.
When they first started, I thought that maybe I had eaten something I shouldn’t have, or that I was coming down with some sort of sickness.  As time went on, I began to think that maybe these dreams mean something; maybe someone is trying to tell me something.  But what could these dreams possibly tell me?  Am I not the person I always have believed I was?

I get on the bus and promptly take my seat in the back.  I ride for a half-an-hour or so before I see him step on.  The dark haired man takes a seat two rows forward.  He is tall and handsome, in his own way.  His grey shirt and messenger bag give his identity away to me instantly.
After a few stops, I see him rise, so I do the same.  I follow him as he walks toward the exit, but I am careful to keep my distance.  He turns to walk down the street at a brisk pace.  After a few blocks he makes a right, and then a quick left.  I worry that I will lose him, when I see him walk into a pub on the next corner.  I walk in and take a seat in the corner.  A waitress appears and so I give her an order, searching the crowd for my target.  I find him at the bar, but I quietly wait for my moment of action.
When the waitress brings me my drink, I get momentarily distracted, only to lose sight of the man I followed in here.  I begin to panic, but only for a moment, as he takes a seat across from me.
“I know you’ve been following me,” he says.  “My name’s Jake.  Normally I would be creeped out, but you’re pretty, so I think I’ll let that feeling pass.”
My embarrassment is evident on my face and I know it.  “My name’s Anna,” I stutter.  “I’m sorry.  I just thought you were handsome, and I am new in town.  I don’t really have anything going on tonight, and I usually ride the bus so I can learn the city.  I didn’t mean to follow you.”  I’m not sure why I am suddenly so chatty.
“Well, I don’t mind.  Do you want to sit and talk?  Or even go on a walk?  It’s a pleasure to meet you, Anna.”  He stands up and offers his hand.  I quickly finish my drink and follow him out the door.

We walk for 20 minutes or so, making small talk and awkwardly trying to say slightly impressive things to each other.  I know how the mating game works, it’s almost always the same.  Our hands brush and I blush.  Jake scratches the back of his neck in nervousness.  The next time our hands touch, I take his.  He looks at me and smiles.  Soon we reach an alley, so I pull him in after me.
“What are we doing?  This is not how I expected my night to turn out,” Jake laughs.
I push him up against the wall and put my hands around his neck.  I tell him to kiss me.  I feel electricity as our lips touch.  Something inside me ignites and I pull myself closer to him.
Kissing strangers is so much different, but somehow more exciting.  The bottom of my shirt begins to ride up, and he puts his hand just above my jeans, touching bare skin.  I shiver at his touch.  We turn and I feel brick against my back.  I fake powerlessness, but only for so long.  I reach my hand behind my to grab a blade.  I don’t remember bringing a knife along, but it will be useful, apparently.  In our passion I begin to play with his shirt, touch his chest, kiss his neck.  And then I thrust the blade of my knife in his stomach.  His eyes open.  I can see the fear and shock, and I smile.  I can feel the life leave him.  It’s always exciting, watching all energy drain.

Suddenly my eyes fly open.  I am soaked in sweat, and I begin to sob.  It was only a dream.  It was only a dream.  I keep telling myself this.  I bring my hands to my face, and notice that they are covered in blood.  Jake’s blood.  I thought it was only a dream?