Wednesday, November 2, 2011

No-Coat November

I have been laughing out loud a lot lately.

Praise the Lord for consistently good days, good weather, a good school and teaching job, and wonderful friends; for meals with the people I love; for my shelter and security; for my upcoming trip to Seattle; for walks on nice days and sharing things in common; for Michigan Cherry Chili, red velvet cake balls, and anything with sweet potatoes or pumpkin; for bamboo and its ability to stay alive; and for my family who welcomes me home with open arms, no matter how long I've been away.

As Florence would say, "It's always darkest before the dawn."
Sometimes the night is long, two years long, but the morning always comes, and she comes with a glorious sunrise.

A quick overview of my fall so far:

Sunday, October 9, 2011


Good weekends are hard to end because you get a little taste of what life should be like--all the time.
This weekend, I was able to spend a lot of time with a lot of good friends.

House concert down the street in Grand Rapids. Stationary Travelers played. Some wonderful women were there: Lindsey and her sister, Natalia, and Kaitlin. Wonderful wonderful night.

Grand Rapids Farmers' Market. One of the best I've been to in a while. Bought myself a butternut squash, an onion, and a loaf of bread. MMM. Deep-cleaned my apartment while awaiting the arrival of Sarah Russo and Lauren Gantner! Walked around ArtPrize. Ate at Cinco de Mayo. Had too much Mexican food and some margaritas. Walked around ArtPrize some more. Nap time/Sex and the City time. Woke up. Gertrude and lipstick. Stella's. #hashtags. Mojo's--too many moms dancing everywhere. Best walk home ever. Holding hands with Sarah. GIRLS. HELLO. Mexican food and more movies.

Woke up. Lazy morning. Drove around looking for brunch. Electric Cheetah in the autumn s
unshine. DELICIOUS. Drove to Holland to see Lizzy/Joe/Allison/Paul/lots of other friends. Played board games on the back porch. Impromptu music-playing. Dinner at New Holland with Lizzy and Joe. Now, relaxing on my couch with a movie.

This weekend was truly wonderful. Beautiful weather with beautiful friends. This is how life should be--a little piece of Heaven on Earth.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

another city for a new weekend

While I was driving home from Chicago this afternoon, I thought to myself, "What am I doing still living in West Michigan?" I know there is a reason for my being here. There is a reason I was only offered one teaching position (that just happened to be in Holland). I love my job. I love my school. I love my apartment. I love my landlords. I love my friends that I have here. I love that I am still not too far from home. So...why am I not 100% happy to be living here, then?

The answer to this is simple: this world is HUGE! I have lived in Michigan my entire life, and I am still here. My hungry heart wants to travel and explore this great big world. My soul desires to be in a city that offers exciting opportunities almost every day; a city that holds concerts and street festivals and has parks that run between the city skyline and a beautiful body of water; a city with easy and accessible transportation; a city full of people searching for meaning and enjoyment. This is what my soul longs for.

There is something romantic about musicians. Not that I want to be in a band, nor do I have the talent to do so, but the idea of traveling the country and seeing new cities almost every night, and getting paid to do so, is a wonderful thought to me. At a concert in Chicago last night, I found myself feeling jealous of the men on stage. While I didn't desire to do what they do, I was jealous of the travels they are experiencing and of the people they get to meet.

I am saving my pennies for big adventures. I have a list of places I want to go, and I am tracking flight prices. The world better get ready for me. Who wants to join?

Chicaho, I hope to see you again soon.

Monday, September 26, 2011

extremely loud and incredibly close

My friend, Brett, and I drove out to East Lansing yesterday to see Jonathan Safran Foer speak. How great it was to hear him speak about the writing process for him because he had different views from most writers that I have heard before. Foer said, "Sometimes writing means just what it says. It doesn't always have some deeper meaning" (that is paraphrased). He also said that his characters, to him, are merely tools in telling his stories. They aren't real people to him. This struck me as interesting because most authors tend to let their characters grow inside of them--almost becoming real people--, and they feel a need to continue to tell more of their story.

What I think may have been the most important part of the evening to me, though, was the drive home with Brett. Other than kind of getting lost on the backroads of Lansing in the middle of the night in the rain, we had some great conversation. We talked about Foer and how he said, "Emotions and intuition are muscles that need to be worked." How true this is! We often don't allow ourselves to feel certain emotions (particularly sadness) because it doesn't always feel good to feel that way. Brett said something that I thought was beautiful: "Why should we deny ourselves to feel? Even if it is sadness, I want to feel something real." We talked about the importance of nurturing our emotions--even when that means allowing ourselves to feel sad.

It's nice to know that there are other people that feel the same way: Being on our own is not easy, especially being apart from our best friends. I have been thinking about this a lot lately, but particularly because I heard Foer speak last night, about this deep longing I have to feel connected to people, yet I feel constricted and unable to do so. Foer's book, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, speaks volumes to this. His book tells the stories of so many people who want to communicate with one another on a deep level but all are unable to do so. My problem lies in the fact that I don't feel connected to that many people in this area. I do have a couple of close friends around, though, and I have hope that the Lord will guide me and help me to nurture those friendships with people.

scent memory

The sense of smell is the biggest recaller of memories. Lately, scents all over the place have reminded me of memories of my past.

On my drive to and from work every day, I pass by these water treatment plants. Sometimes, the smells remind me of India. In a strange way I am comforted by these scents that would normally cause me to bury my nose deep in the folds of my sweater, not because I like them by any means, but because they remind me of the back alleys of Jaipur and the side streets of Mumbai that we discovered while searching for Chimanlal Paper Company.

Every day when I walk into one of the fifth grade classrooms, a familiar scent hits me. Not until today did I realize what the scent reminded me of: Andrew Gehl and David Caplans's room in Wyckoff freshman year.

Many people in Grand Rapids have small bonfires in their backyards. I can smell these often as I bike around, exploring, and the smell always reminds me of Jamaica.

There is a certain scent that breezes by me occasionally that reminds me of the walk to Northway Primary School in Liverpool.

Good memories are a good thing, especially at times like these when you miss everything.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

for my friends

Sometimes, you don't realize how much you miss everyone and value their friendships until you have been away from them for a time and then reunite with them. I have some incredible friends.

The end of the school year was a whirlwind for me. With wrapping up student teaching, graduating, and leaving for India all in four days' time, I did not have time to think about the fact that I was saying goodbye to my best friends for a long period of time. While I have seen a few friends over the course of the few months that I have been back in the States, I have really not seen that many. I have a few friends left in the Grand Rapids area who are only a short bike ride away and a few still in Holland, but a majority of my close friends have moved away from Michigan--they are off in the world doing big and beautiful things. My friends are in places like Chicago, Seattle, Oklahoma, Ohio, Boston, New Zealand, Portland, France, and the list goes on...

This weekend I got to celebrate the marriage of two of my friends, John Rob and Lindsey Rebhan, alongside many of my best friends. What a glorious celebration it was! Not only did we get to celebrate together one of the best reasons to celebrate in this life, but we also got to reunite with one another. I am truly blessed with some of the greatest friends a girl could ask for. This is why it is so difficult to finally have the realization hit me this weekend that most of my close friends are far away. No longer can I walk down the street to my friends' homes, stop by to say hi to someone on my way home from class, or have spontaneous adventures. I now have to plan when I will see the people that I love most. I now have to save my money for plane and train tickets, gasoline, and eating out when I make visits. I have to plan around my full-time teaching position to spend time with my friends. I miss the ease of college life.

BUT...I guess this is growing up. You have to be intentional about keeping in contact with people. You need to make extra effort to see the people you want to see. Through all of this, though, I think you learn who's worth making that effort for; who you really desire to receive life updates on; and who will stick around with you, too. While the day-to-day might seem rough at first, at least we all have bright moments to look forward to. There will come more glorious days that we can all spend with one another.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

a joyous reminder

"My favorite part about school is reading and sitting and hanging up my backpack."
-a kindergarten student

ah, how sweet it is for a child to remind you that the simple things in life are the things to be happy about.