30 November 2008

The Tryptophan Coma Continues

It's official.  I have survived my first Cheshire family holiday.  

It's not that I was actually afraid of literally (or emotionally, or relationally) surviving Thanksgiving with the future in-laws, it just seems so abnormal to not be at least a little bit worried about it.  Really...have you ever heard a future daughter-in-law mention her first holiday with the in-laws in a tone of casual nonchalance?  Me neither.  I embrace the average; I was freaked out that the brother/best friend would decide he didn't approve of me after all, and the brother/best friend's girlfriend would hate me, and I'd cry when the yams weren't like Mom makes them, and I'd never be able to get through the Cheshire family "to the troops" toast that requires you to finish whatever alcohol is left in your glass so you basically have to keep drinking so you're only left with a little bit at the bottom in lieu of chugging the entire glass and you therefore end up more tipsy than you intended.  Did I mention I'm really bad at drinking to begin with?  Of course these were all entirely pointless things to be worried about but I feel like if I'd not worried at least a little, I would have missed out on a time-honored engagement tradition.  So I worried.  

And I worried some more.  
I created and planned situations: "Well, I have to be prepared for if so-and-so says such-a-thing then I respond in such-a-way..."
And then I worried about the planned hypothetical situations.

And then the holiday was upon me,  and it went amazingly well!  Casey, Tina, and I got along like we'd been brothers and sisters forever.  The yams were great, even if they weren't Mom's.  The "to the troops" toast was preceded by a toast to our engagement that I'll admit made me tear up and ended up being one of my favorite parts of the entire day.  Booschi, Kip's 95 year-old grandmother, even remembered me and asked at least four times if I was finishing school before the wedding, responding to each "Yes, Booschi" with a nod of approval and a hearty "Good!  Good!" and a grin that lasted about five minutes.  We hot tubbed and relaxed and played Apples to Apples and prayed.  And it was wonderful.

We put together a puzzle that was intended to be done sporadically throughout the weekend.  Instead, we ended up attacking it on Friday night and finishing it in about an hour.


Notice Kip in the front, looking quizzically at his chosen piece.

Yay!  We finished the puzzle!

Casey and Kip did an interpretive dance to celebrate.

They were actually just playing with the Wii.

I really feel like this indicates the entire weekend--there's Mr. Cheshire looking questionably at the Wii, Mrs. Cheshire laughing at Casey, who's being silly, Tina's laughing too...the only problem is that I wasn't quite as much the emo-kid loner as I look.   And Kip wasn't always behind the camera.  Okay, maybe it wasn't quite so indicative as I thought.

We had breakfast at the airport before we left each other until Christmas.  We were much less happy than we look, but my breakfast taco was incredible, so that's a plus.

In related news, Kip and I registered while we were together and it was super fun.  He kept trying to scan random things (like small children) and we registered for a ball pit.  For serious.

25 November 2008

Adventures with Acrostics, Part 5: The Mother Lode

In celebration of the first of our end-of-the-year professor evaluation, Alethea and I embarked on that noblest of tasks, the alphabetical acrostic, yesterday.  

An Alphabetical Acrostic on Filling Out Evaluations
Beautifully unchanging questions
Commonly filled out
Don't take into account the insufficiency of numerical value assignments
Eating them would not be ideal
Filling the ovals in completely is required
Great for pay-back
Hellish papercuts are a risk
Incredibly convenient that professors don't get them back until after grades are assigned
Justice in paper form
Kindly turn them into some lady
Lacking in .5 increments on the number scale
My favorite time of year (because that means the semester's almost over)
Not a good idea to pass them out after handing back a paper
Only YOU...can fill them out
Pencils of the #2 variety are necessary
Ridiculous to try and make an acrostic out of
Stunningly short
They say they actually make a difference...
Underhandedly passive-agressive
Very pink
Willitts did "N"...oops
X-rated evals don't usually happen
Zebras cannot fill them out

Clearly we got a little desperate near the end.  Although Willitts really did hand them out after passing back a paper once and it wasn't the best idea....

24 November 2008

This Is What Happens When I Hang Out With Sarah

After spending the weekend with the lovely and talented Sarah Contreras, my new musical obsession is officially Taylor Swift.  Sure, I'd downloaded a few of her songs from iTunes.  Sure, I sang along to "Should've Said No" at the top of my lungs in The Box over the summer, reveling in my then-ignorance that the car has absolutely no sound proofing.  This, however, is now officially musical love.  

Please, please, please, for the goodness of your soul take a few moments and check out the following:

If nothing else, you need to watch this until the end just to see the look on her face when she finishes the song.  If you don't like her after that, you seriously need to take a trip to Oz and ask for a heart.

Beautiful.  Beautiful. Beautiful.  I would pay to tour with her and play the cello part on this.  

Speaking of beautiful, the lyrics to this are written on the top of Mari's mirror in our room, and it always makes me smile :)

Just to prove that she does have some songs that aren't for breakups.  I particularly like the last verse....for obvious reasons :)

Yes, I am still a twenty-something young woman.  Let me have my musical obsessions while I still have time for them.

20 November 2008

And the Tryptophan Coma Begins...

Every year, Student Association foots the bill for the entire North Park community--students without meal plans, professors, friends, staff...--to all pile into the dining hall (affectionately known as ARA) for a huge Thanksgiving dinner a week before the real thing.  It is my favorite North Park day. 
ARA is always packed...

So part of the fun is sitting on the floor when there's no space at the tables.
There are several Brazilian students in orchestra who'd never heard of Thanksgiving and had no real desire to participate in it...until we explained the pure magic of ARA Thanksgiving.  They came, they saw, they were converted into believing that it's the best part of North Park. 

The generally accepted rule of ARA is that if it looks disgusting, it's probably really tasty.  
If it looks tasty, it's probably really disgusting.
It holds true even at Thanksgiving.  The yams (bottom, center) were excellent.

...and so was the pecan pie.  Javier was excited about it.

Part of ARA Thanksgiving tradition is that Dr. Parkyn, our President, serves the turkey!



Adventures with Acrostics, Part 4: Sarah's Contribution

I signed onto facebook a few minutes ago to find (much to my delight) the following in my inbox from one Sarah Renae Contreras:

Cute as a friggin button
Intelligent for realz
Near to my heart
Definitely has great style
Yahweh loves her!

Comically gifted
Yearns to be close to God
Neat and tidy
Truly cares about her friends
Honest and humble
Always there for me when I need her

Sarah gets the prize for not only using both versions of my name in an acrostic poem, but also for using the ancient Hebrew name for God.  

19 November 2008

Hurtado > Halal

A few weeks ago I decided that I am on a one-woman mission to eat through the Biblical and Theological Studies Department, one professor at a time.  No, I am not turning to cannibalism.  I am, however, aware of the fact that our department has an unusually rich array of ethnic professors--Brad Nassif is Lebanese, Boaz is Indian, Joel and Scot have both spent a fair amount of time in England, and Mary...well, I'll figure out something culinarily exciting about her.  

Okay maybe it's more like "we have two ethnic professors out of five" but that's still huge for a Scandanavian university.  

My progress so far is limited to Indian food with Boaz after a World Religions field trip and Lebanese food at the Nassif residence with my Senior Seminar class.  Conclusions:  Lebanese food, yes.  Halal, no.  At some point in this mission, Katie Kuehn and I wondered what culinary category Scot would fit best in.  After exploring several options (including Scottish...we're terrible), in the end we decided that proper "white man food" consists of a good casserole.  

Then I remembered that he loves Italy.  
Like, spends a significant amount of time there every year.  
So maybe I'll save the casserole for Joel; Scot food is Italian.  

And I got to check that off my list tonight.  In. Style.  

You see, it is that most magical of weeks in the BTS department.  Not only is everyone getting ready to fly out of town for the Society of Biblical Literature conference, they are also all a-buzz over the department's annual Kermit Zarley lectures.  This year's speaker is Dr. Larry Hurtado from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, perhaps the world expert on God in the New Testament.  Talking about, um, God in the Bible sounds really general, but it's not, I promise. 
When I walked into the office this afternoon to meet with Joel about his paper for SBL, the buzz in the air was tangible: Kermit Zarley (the golfer-turned-theology-aficionado who puts on the lectures every year) sat in Scot's office talking about studying Hebrew, Boaz was strolling around the hall making sure everyone was heading over to the lectures soon, Brad was talking about the day with a student in his office.  It was academic magic.  As Joel and I headed to Starbucks to grab a hot beverage before the lecture, he mentioned that the entire department goes out to dinner with the speaker after the lecture every year.  "Hmm, free food? I think that's something the BTSO president should be involved in" I quipped, entirely joking. 

Cut to about two hours later when I, standing in a line to talk to Dr. Hurtado about postgraduate work at the University of Edinburgh, felt a tap on my shoulder.  Scot McKnight beckoned me away from the crowd, "Cindy, over here...come here.  We have an extra spot at dinner tonight, would you like to come with us?"  
I stood there, feeling like a little boy who'd just been asked by the fireman if he wanted to man the siren on the big red truck.  "Really?"  
He nodded, "Do you have anything tonight?"  
Only about 900 pages of reading to do for Joel, I thought, but do I want to put that off to go have dinner with all of my professors and a world authority in New Testament studies?  Um, is the Pope a Catholic?  "No!  I could do that!  I mean, I don't have anything on me...I don't have any money or my El card..."
"Oh don't worry, the department will take care of all that and Mary can drive you."
I announced that I needed a moment to geek out about the entire thing.  

After Scot walked away to talk to another professor, I stood in the aisle of Isaacson Chapel waiting for the students to file out from the lecture.  I texted Kip with something to the effect of "omg omg omg I'm going to dinner with the profs and the speaker".  He immediately called me and we gabbed like teenagers who'd just sighted a "High School Musical" star in the food court at the mall.  I leaned against one of the pews only to realize that the ink from a note I'd written earlier on my hand had formed a permanent, backwards "...meet tomorrow..." on the whitewashed surface.  I hastily licked my fingers, trying to rub it off.  I can't decide what was worse:  staining a pew or cleaning it with saliva.  As I pondered this, the professors all got ready to leave, turning to me, "Ready?"

Oh yes, professors, I was born ready, pew-staining hands and all.

When we arrived at Via Veneta I booked it to the bathroom, intent on washing any residual ink (and saliva) off my palm, visions of a disgusted guest lecturer-post shaking my hand in my head.  When I got back to the table, the rest of the professors had arrived.  Scot looked at me, "How old are you?"
"Good.  You can have a glass of wine then."
I raised my eyebrows.  "Is drinking with professors really a good idea?"
He looked around the table, "Is drinking with students a good idea?"

And that is how I came to not only share Italian food with Scot McKnight (next target: a casserole with Joel), but also how I got to do it facing Dr. Hurtado, surrounded by all of my professors and many glasses of wine.  

They talked about how Dr. Hurtado made it to Edinburgh, who they believe are good writers (Scot suggested reading three pages of C.S. Lewis' "Mere Christianity" before writing; Joel opted for Dostoyevsky), the conservative values of Wheaton College, Franz Bibfeldt, names for God in the Bible (to which I added my major contribution for the night: "Where, then, does theos fit in?"), risotto, why Brad and Joel maybe shouldn't have ordered the steak according to Acts 15, and more.  At some points I just sat back, paying attention to the wonder of it all.  At some points, Scot leaned across the table with a self-satisfied glint in his eye and asked how I was doing.  I smiled back, wondering how I'd ended up the Cinderella invited to this ball of academic rock stars, reached for my wine glass with my still slightly-stained hand, and tried to hold back my grimace at the chianti's bitterness.  But hey, I didn't like halal either. 

18 November 2008

To Be Completely Real...

...things aren't that fabulous.  

I was thinking this morning about the day I was in my parents' room over some school break, talking to my mom about socks or something inconsequential when I looked over at my dad's bedside table and saw a book called "Naked Conversations."  Thinking that it was an odd book title to begin with, and seemingly NOT the kind of book I cared to find in my parents' bedroom, I hesitantly flipped it over.  It was about blogging.  Phew.  I never actually read the synopsis of the book, just glad to find out it wasn't about some new...erm, technique...but I found myself thinking about that title this morning as I crunched my way to class through the piles of leaves on Carmen.  I guess it makes sense.  Maybe that's why so many angry adolescents take to xanga or livejournal to whine their sorrows away--blogging does afford a certain amount of anonymity, or at least a healthy dose of saying what you want without the mortification of looking someone in the eye while you say it.  

Shoot to earlier this evening, when I checked my email to find the following message: "Hey Cindy.  I am in Senior Seminar with you.  I just noticed that you have looked a little sad the past few classes.  I was just wondering if everything is okay and if I can be praying for you.  Let me know and have a good day.  In Christ, Erin"  

I stared at the message then spent the next half hour numbly surfing facebook, clicking from page to page, friend to "friend", not really paying attention to any of it.  

She's probably the fifth person this quad to make that assertion; the second in the past week (the first was Boaz Johnson who stopped me outside of Caroline Hall, and to whom I adeptly responded "I can't find my shoes").  

It's true, I couldn't find my favorite pair of shoes (and still can't, come to think of it...) the day that Boaz stopped me.  It's also true that I've been tired the past couple classes during Senior Seminar, acrostics notwithstanding.  It's also, however, true that I am that orange on the sidewalk by the Seminary from a few posts ago.  Yeah, it was a cute analogy and maybe a titch too melodramatic at the end, but it was also autobiographical truth.  

I have 902 pages to read for Joel Willitts in the next three weeks.  I have an exegetical paper to write for my Senior Seminar, a Greek final, four World Religions papers, an orchestra concert, a cello jury, and a week of finals.  And I'm still that orange on the sidewalk who refused to give up control and is now being told to take those 902 pages and those four papers and the partridge in the pear tree and throw it to the wayside in order to concentrate on the soul I've been pretty successfully ignoring for the past twenty years or so, although it's been dressed up in pretty clothes designed by the Biblical and Theological Studies Department.  And yet I'm still freaking out over Kip's recent decision to take the lead on the guys' tuxes for the wedding, because I would really prefer them to have full-back vests and wear normal ties instead of bow-ties and cummerbunds cause I think they look funny and that way they can take off their jackets cause it'll probably be hot in August, but they'll still look polished.

Am I serious?


Bow ties?

It's not that good things don't happen.  I got 100% on my Greek quiz last week.  I watched Brad Nassif flip our entire class a sideways peace sign and say "Baller".  I found a really cute shirt for Thanksgiving at the Gap.  It's just that when a person chooses to freak out about full-backed vests over not wanting to talk to the Creator of the universe....well, there's something inherently and seriously off-center there.  And I'm not okay with that.

So there's my naked conversation.  
Can I put my witty clothes back on now?

17 November 2008

Philo Tein Hellenekein

I got a 100% on my last Greek quiz.

This is pretty much proof that God is good.  And studying actually does get you somewhere.

15 November 2008

Adventures with Acrostics, Part 3: It's Really Just the Third Time I've Blogged About Them

I got an email from my dad today.  This isn't altogether uncommon.  This one, like most of the rest, was terribly funny and made me laugh out loud...I lol'd, if you will.  However this one, unlike the rest, contained an acrostic poem just for me.  I sort of feel as if the elementary school Father's Day gifts table has turned.  This time it wasn't an acrostic from me to him ("F--fantastic, A--amicable, T--theatric when he's tired..."), it was from him to me and it has to do with the word cello:

Certainly you'll enjoy this photo
Early or late in the day
Loudly they play for the assembled group
Lamenting that they had to work on Saturday night,

And here's the aforementioned photo:

My dad's pretty much the coolest ever.

14 November 2008

Geek Comics Strike...For the First Time?

When I came down with mono last semester, a friend of mine from camp gave me a link to this site and suggested that I press "Random" anytime that I'm tired but can't really fall asleep.  It's mindless and geeky, but the comics are pretty funny, he said.  And this is how I found this comic:

I'm such a geek.

Hi, I'm Cindy and I'm Obsessed with Acrostics...

Plainly put, Alethea and I are now obsessed with acrostics.  It's pretty much our favorite thing to do.  We did one in class today for "Kip Cheshire" because she wanted to make me smile.  It worked.  :)

We also made one for Josh since today is his birthday.  Consider the following:

Just turned 21 and is...
Obviously excited about drinking.
Has the same name as Jesus
Unites with fellow anti-McLarenites
Against contraception (commentary:  for a better understanding of why we put this, check out line 3 in "Dean")

Devilishly good at Greek
Eats tomato soup and grilled cheese
Adamantly Catholic
Not a Gnostic

I don't know why we are both so incredibly amused by this.  Was it not amusing enough in elementary school when we'd make them out of the word "Mother" for Mother's Day?  (M...Magnificent  O...Obviously the best Mom ever  T...Turns the burnt side of the grilled cheese over on the plate....gah!  It's an obsession!)  Perhaps it's the same feeling Elementary Ed majors get when they get to take their Art Pedagogy classes where they get to finger paint and make clay pots in the name of being able to teach others how to do it.  Clearly this is the Bible major alternative.  If Proverbs 31 is an acrostic, then clearly it's okay for me to write them in class.  

Next step:  making one based off of the alphabet, not a name.  Dream big!

12 November 2008

The Heart of Life is Acrostics and Apple Applications

Today was saved by the letter A.  

Example #1 (or maybe it should be A...):  Alethea and I were both less than enthused about our Fourth Year Seminar class today.  Blame it on the cold weather or the low-lying clouds...either way we were both exhausted...

Example #2:  ...so in an attempt to stay awake and relatively alert, we started writing Acrostics to each other.  Bonus points:  we can't get yelled at for it because we had just discussed acrostics (a form of poetry in the Bible where each line begins with a successive letter of the alphabet or a name) in class the day before.  We were merely solidifying the subject matter through practice!  Take, for example, the following:

Cindy is certainly chilly today because it is cold.
I've also been drinking a lot of tea,
Not necessarily because I enjoy it, but because I've
Definitely been coming down with something for the past couple days
Yet really hoping that it won't involve my sinuses.

Plus, we paid enough attention to catch Brad paraphrasing the Bible ("I don't think Jesus meant to say, 'Go tell Herod, that sexy fox...'") and imploring us to "Put that in your pipe and smoke it" after discussing Jesus' use of the title "Father" for God.  Hilarity has a doctorate in Theology and its name is Brad Nassif.

Example #3:  We also decided that going back to her apartment and watching "Aladdin" was a very good idea.  And it was.

Example #4:  When I returned to my apartment, I sat on my floor, staring at my computer in a feeling of general malaise (or maybe it was the "I'm slowly coming down with some sort of mysterious illness" goonies) when I turned on my perennial "Cindy needs to feel better about her life" song--John Mayer's "The Heart of Life."  And it was then that an Apple application made this entire day better.  While listening to the song, I clicked on the "Genius" button in iTunes and voila!  I had an entirely new playlist based on that song.  Fantastic.

In conclusion:
Apple Applications


11 November 2008

Another Cool Link

I have no idea how I happened upon this page (seriously, I clicked a link to a friend's page on facebook and ended up here) but I'm really glad it happened.

10 November 2008

Orange Juice on the Window

Maybe it's cause I'm not a guy.  Maybe it's because I don't have brothers.  Either way, I don't get what possesses young men to throw things, particularly things one may find in the produce section of the grocery store, around campus.  Like pumpkins.  And apples.  And oranges.  And the occasional TV, which I know doesn't belong in the produce section but they've done it anyways.  And really huge, wet pairs of boxers (true story).  And frisbees.  And the list goes on...

I suppose I can understand throwing pumpkins onto the sidewalk outside of Burgh--pumpkins do make a ridiculously satisfying sound when they hit pavement from a height, but the North Parker past time that I simply don't understand is throwing oranges.  Maybe it's a Swedish tradition descended from immigrants of old that I just don't know about (this is the country that has a holiday in which they throw pancakes or waffles or donuts or some other breakfast pastry at each other, according to Mari).  Maybe it's an unspoken rite of passage between North Park men, like No-Shave November, the Freshmen Streak, or longboarding, but I doubt it.  I think it just is some weird, primal urge to throw things.  Maybe it's like monkeys throwing their feces around.  Except North Park guys aren't monkeys, and they're throwing produce, not...well, you know.  

All of this is to say that I was walking to the library to, erm, work (not blog, work, ahem...yeah.) when I looked down and saw the sides of the walkway littered with split oranges, lying desolately like casualties on a battlefield.  My first inclination was to check the nearby windows, and sure enough, there was orange juice running down one of the panes at the Seminary.  I don't know why, but my mind flew to the devotion that my Greek professor shared this morning.  He read a verse from Romans with us and reminded us of the responsibilities of being a Christian, namely to give up your entire life to God.  Not just your Sunday mornings or your crappy weeks or that one thing that you really really want, but your entire being--your dreams and your successes and your plans.  

I must admit, it hit home.  

I've realized within the past week that I really haven't been doing that.  I've been keeping my dreams and my aspirations to myself, even if they wear spiritual clothes.  I want Oxford and a publishing deal and a standing ovation at a Society of Biblical Literature conference, all while saying that the work I do on the Bible is for God when it's really for me and my glory.  Maybe God doesn't want Oxford for me.  Maybe he wants me to go to some podunk seminary in Poughkipsie to impact the people there.  

God doesn't give us spiritual gifts to use for ourselves, He gives them to us to use for the Spirit.  Otherwise, they'd be called "me gifts", wouldn't they?  Doesn't have the same ring to it, I think.

"Living with God in control of only part of your life is a shallow salvation" said Dr. Lee this morning, "and we can't let it impact our evangelization.  I constantly tell people 'Don't convert yet, you don't understand what you're getting into.'  Because they have to know, they have to know that the Christian life is not an easy one, and you have to be able give up all control."  But I've never known a Christian who knew exactly what they were getting into when they came to the faith.  We sing our praise songs and recite our sinners' prayers and swear that this is a white funeral, that we're a new creation.  And then we try to dominate it because maybe God won't come through on His end of the deal, or maybe He'll tell us to do something we don't like.  So we go on missions trips because it seems like something good, spiritual people do when we're really called to and meant for the divided Church at home.  We go for the highest-caliber Bible study we can find when maybe God just wants us to do a simple devotional more than once every few months.  We look for 7 steps to "become a better you" when the only step we should take is to ask God how to live our "best life now" and then actually do it.  We demand control of something that was never really only ours to begin with, that's God's and God's alone to control, and before we know it the orange that is our soul runs into the window that is our plans and we end up like those oranges I saw in between the library and the Seminary--crushed on the pavement, with juice running down the window.  

The part that gets me about all of this is that if that window at the Seminary hadn't been in the way, those oranges would have landed in the chapel.  
With God.  

Which is probably where our oranges all belong in the first place.  

09 November 2008

Mayan Hell Is Cool!

Kip found this story somewhere and he thought I'd like it.  He was right.  It's so cool!!!  Check it out!

08 November 2008

Recital Relationship Counseling

About a year ago, I had an overwhelming feeling that I'd been dumped.  No, not from that relationship, from my relationship with my cello.  I sat in the music building and called my cello teacher from high school.  "Amanda," I cried into the phone, "I just feel like all of a sudden my cello turned to me and went 'It's not me, it's you...'  I don't enjoy playing anymore.  Orchestra isn't all that great.  Lessons aren't all that great.  I feel like I've been dumped by my cello."  She suggested playing all different kinds of music--get into a quartet, a rock trio, a folk band...and orchestra, of course.  At the time I thought playing more of the music I wasn't so fond of anymore was the last thing that would help.  But I did.  

And that is how I came to play cello for Trevor Nicholas.  

Trevor is a music education major here at school with some of the best composition skills I've seen up close.  He started putting together small ensembles to play some of his compositions.  It's never been anything hugely permanent--a chapel here, a collegelife there, a conference performance at Midwinter.  This year Trevor is graduating, which means he has to put on a Senior Recital.  He's a pianist by nature but since he's even more of a composer, he put together groups to play for it.  We've been practicing all semester and tonight was the Recital. 

I will be the first to admit (and Kip will back me up on this) that I've been complaining about the rehearsal schedule for as long as we've been rehearsing.  I was in three different pieces so I had three different sets of rehearsals to go to.  
With three sets of musicians.  
Who are late.  
Because we are musicians.  

Basically, this took a lot of time.  

And a lot of patience.  

But tonight, it actually all came together.  And I'm really happy.  Senior Recitals aren't famous for attracting huge groups of North Parkers, but the chapel was packed.  President Parkyn and his wife were there.  Practically the entire School of Music was there.  Seniors from years ago were there.  And it was all because of Trevor and his music.  

Honestly, I'm honored to have played.  

I didn't hit strings accidentally or squeak or forget to shift.  I didn't play an E-flat when it should have been an E-natural.  His pieces were about God, and I got to worship through them.  I cried after his vocal arrangement of "Come Thou Font". And in the process, I got some relationship counseling--with my cello, that is.  Oh yes, Henri and I are no longer on the outs.  I have yet to announce this to him, but I think he already knows; we made some beautiful music together.  

Thanks, Trevor.

06 November 2008

Adventures in Wedding Planning: Part 2, The Brush-Off at Borders

It was over before it began.  The other day, I stood in the basement of the Borders at the top of Michigan Avenue looking for the wedding planning section to see if they had any books I might like.  They have an entire section on how to plan a wedding, I thought, maybe they'll have some books in there on how to plan a marriage, too!  Mistake #1.  An employee saw my wandering eyes and asked if I needed help.  I responded.  Mistake #2.

"Can I help you find something?" 
"Yeah, I'm looking for your wedding planning section."
He looked at me, expressionless.
"Anywhere...?"  I ventured
He still looked at me.
I shrugged my shoulders.  This was quite possibly the most awkward moment of my life.
He finally snapped out of it, turned around and beckoned, "This way."  I trudged along behind him as he turned and asked, "You're planning a wedding?"
No, I just really like spending real money on books for imaginary weddings.  "Yup"
"Um, yeah"  I put my be-diamonded left hand up onto the handle of my tote bag, hoping he wouldn't ask what I thought he would.
A victorious pause, then, "Yours?"
Oh no.  Here it comes.  "Yeah"
He raised a pierced eyebrow, "Okay, one more question..."
"I'm twenty-one" I interrupted, knowing full well what his one question would be.
"Yeah, that's what I was going to ask" Yeah, no really? He stopped at the appropriate book stack. "I thought you were, like, sixteen."  

And here is where, if I had a remote that controlled my life, I would pause the entire universe to think of a proper comeback before responding.  Oh no, I wouldn't use that remote to erase that fantastic face-plant I did in front of 1,500 people at the Manchester High School Band Show in 2002.  I wouldn't even use it to go back to my middle school semi-formal where Jon Barry, the most popular guy in school, asked me to dance and I stood there frozen like an idiot.  I would use it to pause Monday night at the Chicago flagship Borders and think of something more witty to say than this:

"Well," I responded, looking at the floor, "he looks just as young."

This was a remarkably bad comeback on several levels:
1) It wasn't witty at all.  In fact, I'm pretty sure that if you looked up the antonym of "witty" in the thesaurus, you would get a video clip of this moment.
2) It isn't actually true.  Kip doesn't look 16, he looks about 20.  And since we're four years apart, it's rather convenient that the age difference stays proportional in the looks department. 
3)  I've been getting this comment (with varying ages) since I left for college.  How it happened that people used to mistake me for my older sister in high school and now think I just entered puberty is beyond me.  Although, it must be said that my median age of assumption has gone from 15 over the summer to 16 today.  Maybe it's the ring.  Nevertheless, one would assume that by now I would have come up with a suitable response.  But I haven't.  

Now, I'm fully aware that maybe the purple-butterfly-t-shirt-jeans-flip flops-ponytail ensemble I had on that day didn't exactly scream "age of accountability", but I also don't think it screamed "Hannah Montana" either, even if my birthday cake this year did (it was a joke from Kasey and Sarah, I promise).  But seriously, sixteen?  I think I at least look old enough to vote.  When breaching the topic with Kasey over a Limoncello Lemonade (which I got carded for) at the Olive Garden that night, she suggested, "Why don't you say 'Just imagine how bitchin' I'll look when I'm 40'?"  

It's a suggestion.

05 November 2008

Nobama? Barack the Vote? How About Just Viewing History?

I remember when I was interning at First Congregational, I was sent on a house visit to a woman named Margaret.  Her husband had died two years prior and she was lonely, so from time to time the clergy dropped by to chat and see how she was doing.  I remember sitting in her living room as she told me about her husband and her children, her experiences going to college at Bowdoin, and how she loved to collect maps.  She also told me about how she celebrated the end of World War I.  "My mother and father were driving down a street in Maine when they heard the news on the radio," she said, "and I was only about three months old then, but my mother said that as my father drove down the road, she held me out of the window so I could feel the breeze and see the sky and said 'Look at this new world you have to live in!  See how good it is!'" Just like Margaret's parents, I got to witness history last night when I dressed in layers, chucked all my valuables, and headed to Grant Park with Kasey, Becky, and Tim to watch the outcome of the election.

As soon as we got off the El on Randolph, you could feel the buzz in the air.  Everyone had come out to see what was going to happen.  Every Chicago police officer was on duty.  Even the skyline was patriotic last night!

Conservative estimates say that there were about 75,000 people in Grant Park to watch the outcome....in the tented area alone!  There were tons more non-ticketed viewers (of which we were four) in overflow areas watching on huge TVs that had been set up.  It was standing room only...

...and we stood for about five hours, so we got really tired.  

I'll give you two guesses who the one with the flip-flops is.  And for the record, the only person who stepped on my feet all night was Kasey.

 The majestic ::dunnnnnnn:: of CNN's election headquarters announced that a new projection was on its way!  Polls in California, Washington, Idaho, and Oregon had just closed!  Obama was ahead, and learning the outcomes of each of these states would give us an idea of who might win!  We were excited!  
And then this happened...

We all thought they'd only be announcing who California had elected, but when the screen showed "Barack Obama elected President" (about three seconds into the video, hence the initial screams, the lull and immediate pandemonium), the entire park went crazy.  People were jumping up and down, screaming (obviously...I apologize for the shrillness, but I was surrounded by college-age girls...if you can hear the laughing at any point in the video, that's me), and more than anything else, they were crying.  

We were excited to have been a part of history.  We also, by the by, happened to be shown on MSNBC according to Kasey's sister, Betsy, who at one pointed texted Kasey with "omgomgOMG I JUST SAW YOU GUYS ON TV!!!!!!"  Eloquent.

Then we joined alllllllll those people (if you can find a spot of concrete in this picture, I'll give you a million dollars) walking back to the El.  Parking downtown was completely closed and there were absolutely no cars allowed.  And for good reason--the entirety of Michigan Ave. was flooded by people from top to bottom, non stop, for hours.  People were laughing and hugging and cheering the entire time.  They were also climbing on any surface above a foot to get pictures of the crowd, which was absolutely ridiculously huge.  The El ran as long as it needed to into the night to get people home which, trust me, is a big deal.  It was still full for a couple hours though, so.....

We all went to Rock Bottom and had a drink while everyone else squished like sardines into the El.  By the time we were done, the trains were nearly empty and we actually got seats.  I'm thinking that drinking was the best possible option here.

I'm not going for a political statement here.  Neither am I saying who I voted for.  I would have been happy no matter the outcome last night and I'll be honest, I really hate Obama's abortion stance--but that doesn't mean that when I get a chance to go downtown and witness the election of the first Black president, that I'm not going to take it.  And it doesn't mean that I won't be excited for other reasons than political ones.  

When I looked up on that screen and saw footage of people in Kenya after the announcement, I was flabbergasted.  To see a nation dancing in the streets not at our demise but at our decisions made me more confident about our foreign relations.  
When I turned around and just watched my fellow Americans, I saw something in their eyes that I hadn't seen in a long time--hope.  Maybe it's because I'm an eternal optimist, but I'm telling you, I have been at Christian gatherings that had less joy in the air than there was at Grant Park last night.  
More than anything, when I looked behind Kasey and saw an elderly African American woman standing still, staring at the screen with her hands to her heart, tears running down her face...it was more than I could take.  I'm all about letting bygones be bygones, and by no means do I support voting by race alone, but institutional racism is still a remnant and watching an entire people finally feel justice was worth the swollen feet and lost voice.  

The long and short of it is that I got to stand among history last night.  Whether your chant was "NOBAMA!" or "Barack the Vote!" you can't deny that witnessing something that will forever be a defining moment in American politics warrants the term "amazing."  Despite tax codes and funding, sketchy friends and expensive clothes, stances and positions, I can't help but be optimistic.  And it wasn't anything that Obama or McCain said last night that makes me feel that way; it was watching the hundreds of parents who kept their small children up late into the night, and who I watched, through bobbing heads and victory shouts, hold up their kids and whisper into their ears words that I'm not sure of, but what I imagine were something like, "Look at this new world you have to live in!  See how good it is!"