frogg files

"She could never be a saint, but she thought she could be a martyr if they killed her quick." --Flannery O' Connor

Saturday, December 25, 2004


I am an utter failure when it comes to wrapping presents. I have never been good at it, and now that I'm 29 years old, I think I have to face the fact that gift-wrapping is something I will probably never master. I remember back when I was in college, when I worked for a stationery store, and this woman came in and asked for help picking out a present for her child's schoolteacher. When we got up to the register, she said the dreaded words, "Would you be able to giftwrap that for me?"

As I finished it up, I apologized to her for the fact that it was not done in anything remotely approaching an expert fashion, although in my defense I really did try. Her response was something like this: "Oh that's alright. It'll be fine, because it'll look like my 8-year-old wrapped it."


So I'm awful at wrapping, but I am absolutely phenomenal at UNwrapping. And I simply love getting presents. To this day, I am like an impatient child on Christmas morning, begging everyone to hurry up with breakfast and whatever else they are doing so we can OPEN THE PRESENTS. I have become a bit of a joke in my family over the years, because of this tendency. They all think I am terribly amusing when I start whining at them, "Come on, you guys! I want to open my presents!" On my side, I don't understand why they aren't more excited to open theirs!

But last night I got a pretty awesome present, and a total surprise too. I came home from work, and everyone was in the dining room, when my youngest brother walked in on the phone with the woundedbug in morocco (another brother). Woundedbug was the only one not with us this year. So Timer put me on the phone with him, and we were chatting away, when suddenly into the room walks...woundedbug!!!!! I screamed and squealed like a twelve-year-old, and my sister the world traveller got it all on the video camera. It was great! Apparently my dad got him a ticket home at the last minute.

So for the first time in two years, my whole family is together at Christmas time. And that, my friends, is a Christmas present in itself.

Note: this will be the last frogg files of 2004. The frogg is off to the "toasty-warm" (yeah right, kenny) midwest til the end of the year, and will recommence with the daily posts after January 1. Merry Christmas and happy New Year to all of you! See you in 2005...

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Wonderful and Strange

I saw a man in my town the other day, biking down the street with a cat on his back. Not a stuffed cat; it was a real live one, perched on his shoulders and balancing perfectly as they rode along together. The sight made me very happy, kind of like the time when I saw a horse standing in the back of a pickup truck on the very busy streets of Amman, Jordan. You don't see these sorts of things every day, and when you do, you really have to take a moment to enjoy them.

Here's wishing you a glimpse of the wonderful and strange today, something that will enrich your life, not because of what you will gain from it, but simply because of what it is.

Memory of Christmas Past

Strange to think how, at this time last year, I was just finishing up a short backpacking trip on the acclaimed Abel Tasman Coastal Track in New Zealand, before heading down to the tiny little town of Loburn to celebrate Christmas with a friend's family.

That was a great trip, in spite of incredibly blistered feet, sore muscles, and a tent that had obviously once been put away still wet and then never opened again for a hundred years. I remember the first night we pitched the tent, my friend Sabine and I...we could smell it before we even got in it. We looked at each other, and I knew we were both thinking the same thing: how cold can it really get outside?

Well, the answer was "pretty cold" so we stayed in the tent, but let me just offer this little tip for campers: ALWAYS dry out your tent before putting it away in storage. Mold is not anything close to an attractive smell.

On our last day on the trail, it rained. Naturally. You can't have a true camping experience without getting rained on, according to all the humor articles, sitcoms, and movies on the subject. We awoke at about 6am, so that we could make the necessary low-tide crossing to the coastal point where we would be picked up by a water taxi and taken back to the beginning of the trail. Unfortunately it was not quite low-tide enough. I stood at the water's edge, and knew it was going to come up at least to my knees, possibly higher. Then I wondered what I was worried about--I was already soaked from the rain, since I didn't have any waterproof clothes (I might add that, between me and Sabine, we managed to illustrate every possible scenario of what NOT to do on a backpacking trip).

I really wish I had pictures of that day, me and Sabine looking like nothing more than a pair of nearly-drowned cats. As it is, you'll just have to imagine it.

Good times in the land down under. But it was hard being away from my family at Christmas time--my riotous, loud, overbearing, overwhelming family. Have you ever seen "My Big Fat Greek Wedding"? That's not a totally inaccurate portrayal of my Egyptian family get-togethers (I don't know about weddings, because there haven't been any yet, but any holiday gathering looks pretty much the same). We drive each other nuts sometimes, but I really don't think I'd have it any other way.

(By the way, danthefrog, since you asked...yes I will be at Christmas dinner!)

I hope you are all having a great week, and that your Christmases this year will give you all sorts of good memories to last throughout the coming year.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Ode to Indy...and Christmas!

I just watched my dog catch and eat flies in my room. Gross.

Actually he is the cowgirl's dog. He's a bit of a freak, but an adorable freak. You can't help but love him, because he so obviously loves to be loved. He wriggles with joy when you call him over, and he can't seem to get close enough to you. It's really cute.

What's a bit more annoying is his complete fixation--addiction, really--to playing fetch. As soon as you set foot out of the door, he is off running to find something for you to throw for him. Sometimes it is no more than a twig. Sometimes it's a pebble. My favorite is when he drops at my feet one of those weird prickly little balls that grows on some kinds of trees. How the heck am I supposed to throw one of those? Sheesh.

He will play fetch til he collapses. This actually happened once, when I took him to the park on a hot day and forgot to bring water. I threw the stick for him until finally one time he ran to get it, lay down, and couldn't get up again! I was in a total panic, thinking that he was going to die and the cowgirl would have to challenge me to a duel which I would be bound to lose because I am NOT a cowgirl. No seriously, but she would have been devastated, and for that matter so would I, so I went running around to see if I could find something to put water in for him. I finally found a paper cup next to a trash can, so I filled it up with water, and helped him drink it. He ended up being ok, but I decided we were done playing fetch that day. Even though he still wanted to!

Oddly enough, I did not start out my blog today with the intention of talking all about Indiana Bones (yes, that's his name, but we just call him Indy). I was going to talk about something else, but now I don't remember. Oh well.

Anyway...Christmas is almost here! In spite of the holiday stress, I am happy about it. The last two Christmases I have spent in New Zealand. Which was ok, but weird, because there Christmas is in summer time, and everyone is going on summer vacations, and the whole tenor of the season is off. I mean, granted, weather-wise it was a pretty comparable experience to being in Southern California for Christmas, but it's the overall atmosphere that's different. Summer and winter are different, even if the weather doesn't change all that much. It's something in the air.

Ah, I do miss New Zealand sometimes. A shout out to all my kiwi mates...I love you guys and miss you all HEAPS! Have a great Christmas, and eat some pavlova for me!! Mmmmm, pavlova....

Monday, December 20, 2004

Deep Things

There's a line in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing that says, "I were but little happy, if I could say how much."

I feel like that very often. Not just about happiness, but about any truly deep emotion. It's pretty easy for me to dash off an amusing little anecdote, and I totally enjoy it, but sometimes I want to write about something more, I don't know, substantial, and then I find that my words sound tinny, like cheap windchimes, when what I want them to sound like is a full-scale symphony orchestra.

For example. I really want to write about how much the music of Handel's Messiah means to me, and what it does to me when I hear it, but I just...can't. I went to a performance last night, a "Messiah Singalong" at a local church. I didn't have a musical score, so the singing along part was a tad difficult, but I just thoroughly enjoyed the evening anyway. There is something irresistible, something heart-breakingly beautiful to me about Handel's Messiah, but I can't put it into words, and it's so frustrating, because I want to!!

I remember one time, long ago, being moved to tears by the "Worthy is the Lamb" chorus. The power of the voices, the words, the music--I don't know how anyone can hear it without being shaken up inside. And when the opening bars of the "Hallelujah Chorus" start playing, I get all excited, because somehow I just know that God himself is listening in, and he's feeling pretty stoked on it too.

Listening to the soaring voices and music last night, I'm glad I had the opportunity to forget, at least for a little while, all the Christmas presents I still haven't bought, the Christmas cards I haven't sent, the frayed edges of my life that seem determined to keep unraveling despite all my efforts to keep them together, and instead focus on the One person that has never been unfaithful to me, never left me alone, and never stopped loving me, even when He gets so little of my heart in return.

There's this awfully cliche'd little phrase we hear at Christmas time: "Jesus is the reason for the season." Well, cliche'd it may be, but true it still is (as Yoda might say). Jesus is the reason for the season. At any rate, he's the only reason that I haven't run away screaming from Christmas all together. It's a stressful time of year for me, all too often. But when I have the rare chance of sitting down and just enjoying his presence--as I did last night--Christmas becomes awesome all over again.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Weird Week

Ok, so this past week was a record-setter on the frogg's scale of total weirdness.

A couple days ago, my dad was on his way to the airport to pick up my youngest brother (yeah, timotye! Welcome home, man!). He gets rear-ended by some lady who was not paying attention to anything in particular, but especially not her driving. Then on the way back home from picking up Tim (mind you, this is the same exact day), he gets in another rear-ender. Interestingly, both times the other party had the same insurance company. I can picture a few raised eyebrows over at Mercury next week.

But that's not all. The very next day, the cowgirl got in a car accident. Not her fault, and she is ok, but still it prompted our insurance agent to advise that no one from my family should get behind the wheel of a car for awhile.

Too bad my brother the biotech boy didn't hear about our agent's suggestion. He got rear-ended today, by someone with no insurance.

I actually couldn't believe it when I got the call on my cell. I was at the airport picking up my sister (what's up with the accidents happening on days featuring airport runs??) and the phone rang. I missed the call, but rang right back, only to hear my brother say that he had just gotten in an accident and he would call me right back again. I wasn't sure I heard him right. But oh, I most certainly did. Basically in the short amount of time between my missing his call and then returning it, that's when it happened. I mean, what are the odds people??! I ask you!

Personally, I don't want to drive anywhere anymore! Tempting fate is not my style, and fate seems to be annoyed with the frogg family at the moment, for some unfathomable reason.

I haven't had any accidents recently, but I've certainly had my share. In one year alone, I think I had about four. Only one was my fault, but that one was a doozy. I was heading home from my advertising agency job in Los Angeles (doesn't that phrase just ooze glamour? More than the actual job did, I can tell you), and came to an intersection where I had to make a left turn. There was a bus in my way, blocking my view of one of the oncoming lanes, but the bus driver waved me to turn, and I did...right into the path of a car that was racing up the hill in the lane that I couldn't see. The guy hit me hard, and I did a pretty cool 180 in the middle of the intersection. I probably would have appreciated the coolness a lot more if I hadn't actually been in the car at the time. As it is, I was badly shaken. Somehow I got my car off of the road (I don't remember how, because the back wheel was totally bent due to axle damage or something), and then was "consoled" by the helpful LA drivers who went past, either honking at me for being slightly in the way on the street (sorry, that was totally my intention to inconvenience everyone during rush hour), or else just laughing at me (which I really, really appreciated. Really.).

But anyway, that last paragraph was what is known in literary terms as a tangent. I am an expert at these, as you've probably guessed by now.

Back to the weird week. Um, actually I think that was all I had to say. Hope you're having a great weekend, and getting in less car accidents than my family is these days.

Friday, December 17, 2004

It's Beginning to Feel Alot Like Christmas

I'm a bit nervous about Christmas this year because I haven't done a scrap of Christmas shopping yet, and I have this odd feeling that I actually might not do any at all. And then I will feel pretty horrible, because somebody out there is bound to get me something, and there is nothing worse than feeling guilty for not getting a present for someone who gets one for you. You know what I mean?

Part of my trouble with getting presents is the fact that I absolutely hate shopping. Because I hate it, I put it off to the last minute. But with every day that goes by, there is an exponential increase in shopping stress. Which makes me want to go shopping even LESS. It's a horrible, vicious cycle, and there's a good chance I'm not going to win this fight. The longer I wait, the less likely it is that anyone is going to have a present from me under their tree.

One time I had a bout of utter insanity due to all the impending guilt that I was feeling about not having presents for people, and I actually went shopping on Christmas eve. The less said about that experience, the better. The past is gone, but oh, the scars still remain.

But I really do want to give presents to people. I feel like such a Scrooge when I don't. I just don't know what anyone wants...except me. I want to go snowboarding, plain and simple. Anyone planning to give me a gift can just give me a pass to Summit or just about anywhere in Tahoe...guaranteed gratitude from me, I promise!

The last couple years I was kind of off the hook in the gift-buying department because I was in another country. Which was a bummer because of course I wanted to be with my family on Christmas day, but it was a relief because no one expected any presents!

Hmmm. I think I must be a bad person. Or at least there just must be something wrong with me...I mean, the other day I went Christmas shopping with a friend, and watched him buy presents for all these people...and I did not make a single solitary effort at buying anything for anybody. I mean, there was my opportunity!! I was there, I was AT THE MALL! I could have done it!!!!

But no.

I think I owe a big gigantic thank-you to everyone who is still friends with me, in spite of the fact that I don't buy you presents, or send you Christmas cards, or e-mail regularly, or call. Or do anything a good friend would do, really. Wow. Come to think of it, why ARE you guys my friends???

Hmmm. Maybe some questions are best left unasked.

But now I admit to being curious...what DO you want for Christmas?? Let me know! Er, not that I'll do anything about it, of course. Just wondering, really.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

True Confession

I have a confession to make. I don't know how to say this. I am sure a few people's illusions about me are going to be irrevocably shattered, but I cannot deny the hard truth any longer.

I am not a "true fan" of Homestarrunner.

This was made clear to me today through a conversation I had with my brother. He came into the room and said something totally obscure, which was, "I just got a new computer. A Compaq laptop 486." I looked confused (understandably, as I thought).

My brother repeated his cryptic statement. My brow furrowed. " a new computer? Really?" He stared at me. I stared back. Then I said, "What's a Compaq 486?"

There was a pregnant pause.

"You are not a true Homestarrunner fan, are you," my brother said flatly, with a shake of his head.

"What?! Yes I am! I mean..." My voice faltered. I suddenly remembered all the times over the past year when I had not, in fact, gone to the Homestarrunner web site ( to check up on the latest adventures of Homestarrunner, Strong Bad and all their wacky friends. I saw the truth in that instant, and was devastated.

Because apparently, if I were a fan, I would have known that Strong Bad had got himself a new computer--in fact, a laptop. A Compaq 486. This is the sort of thing "true fans" know. The fact that I didn't brought to light my status as--oh how it pains me to say it--a not-true fan.

I do love Homestarrunner...but I guess I just don't love him enough.

So that is my confession. My heart lies bleeding, but I trust in the unfailing forgiveness of friends and loved ones. Thus ends my baring of soul for another day. How tragic.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

A Parking Misadventure

This one is for fitting, who tells me she is undergoing "frogg files" withdrawals, because I haven't written anything for the last couple days. What can I say--when my fans need me, I'm there. Anyway I hope you like...

Trying to find parking in crowded places is one of my pet peeves. It's a surefire way to make me cranky and annoyed. This was a big problem when I lived near San Francisco, which is notorious for several things: 1) Steep streets. 2) Jaywalkers. 3) No parking. I loved going in to the city, because I thought the city was cool, but I absolutely hated the inevitable driving around for ages while looking for parking. You really need like three independent eyes to drive successfully in SF--one to watch the road, one to make sure you don't kill any jaywalkers, and one to find the ever-elusive parking spaces.

One time I was supposed to meet friends for dinner in North Beach at 7pm on a Friday night (haha). I got to the city just about right on time, but ended up driving around for 45 minutes looking for a spot on the street because I didn't want to pay $20 for a lot. By the time I finally found one (about five blocks away), I was starving, irritable, and a tad road ragey. I don't know if my friends were too pleased to hang out with me that night. I don't remember much about the evening except for not finding parking, which is kind of sad really.

But I actually have a funny parking story which happened in San Francisco, not too long ago. It was in May and my kiwi friend Tash was visiting. We were meeting my friends Mark, steveforpresident, and the Beccanator for dinner (North Beach again!). I turned down this narrow, steep little street, and there was this perpendicular parking space that I thought I just might be able to back into (even though I was driving an unwieldy Toyota Previa). Tash didn't think it was a good idea. "Nonsense," I said. "When you see a parking space in SF, you don't ask questions, you just snag it."


I pulled ahead of the space, and prepared to back up. The car wouldn't back up. It apparently did not have enough power to reverse UP the very steep street. To make matters worse, the front end of the car was now up against a pole that was stuck into the sidewalk. So I could not go forward anymore either. No backwards, no forwards. I was STUCK. I mean, really and truly stuck. I tried putting a piece of wood underneath the back tires to provide some grip or something. When I spun the wheels, the piece of wood went shooting off somewhere far away (thankfully not killing anyone). The car did not budge at all, except maybe to settle more firmly against the pole in front of it.

In no way could this situation be considered good. I was starting to feel just a teensy bit desperate. And then our savior appeared...a little old lady who came out of her apartment just then and showed us THE WAY.

According to this woman, our predicament was not all that uncommon. She said she saw this sort of thing happen "all the time." She said we needed to get some weight in the back of the car. So she and Tash climbed into the back, and a random guy on the street was persuaded to climb into the trunk. I was trying very hard not to roll my eyes in total cynical disbelief. I also was struggling with whether I wanted to laugh or cry. The whole thing was so ridiculous, and yet so incredibly typical of the sort of thing that happens to me. Welcome to my world.

Anyway, it worked (or I might still be there!!). We were able to back the car up far enough that we got clear of the pole. We didn't get the space though. But we had learned our lesson, which was this: Some parking spaces just aren't meant to be had. You gotta know when to fight for 'em, and when to let 'em go.

Also, little old ladies are helpful to have around in parking emergencies. I suggest keeping one in your car at all times. You never know when she might come in handy.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Various Disclaimers

I forgot that I wanted to include this disclaimer for my blog, kindly written for me by the Beccanator last week, but oddly posted on steveforpresident's web site instead of mine (what's up with that, Becca? :). Thank goodness for copy and paste.

The following is a work of fiction. None of the characters are meant to be representative of anyone I ever have known or ever will know in the future. Please do not take offense if any of the content involves stories that you think you may have been involved in and/or things you think you may have said. And for God's sake people, please take the blog in the way it's intended... great {and I mean fantastic!} stories meant to amuse and inform...'

(It's not entirely true that my posts are works of fiction, of course. But it IS true that they are primarily meant to amuse and inform, so they are sometimes fictionalized. Slightly. May I take this moment to remind everyone that after all I am a writer and a storyteller, not a historian.)

Oh, and speaking of disclaimers--please don't be offended if you don't get a Christmas card from me. Hardly anyone ever does. This does not mean I don't love or care about you. It simply means that I am lame. I usually forget to send them until, oh, mid-January. And that's a little late, isn't it? (Then again, maybe I should just do it and be early for next year.)

I think my New Year's Resolutions should include trying to be less forgetful...well, maybe not. That's a setup for failure if I've ever heard one!

Whatever. I'm going to go now, but before I do, one last thing: I want to say a HUGE "thank you" to all my faithful "frogg files" readers. I wouldn't have a reason to keep doing this without you!

Merry Christmas, everybody!


You know, it's really sad when you have the kind of weekend that makes you positively long for Monday to roll around. I had one of those weekends.

Not that Monday is turning out to be much better.

On top of everything, I realized that I am a bad friend because I totally forgot my good friend steveforpresident's birthday, which was on Sunday! The worst part about that was that I told our mutual buddy Mark on Saturday (only the DAY BEFORE!!) that I have no trouble remembering S4P's bday, because it is exactly six months apart from mine. Then I went ahead and forgot it!! Sorry, stevie. You have my permission to forget mine next year, and then we will be even.

I am absolutely shocking when it comes to remembering important dates. This caused no end of trouble with one of my former boyfriends, who always remembered two anniversary days every month: the date of the first time we kissed, and the date of the first time he officially asked me out. I never remembered either of these. Or rather, I did--sometimes--but usually after the day had passed. Thinking back, I believe one of the days might have been the 16th (of what month originally I don't have a clue), but which anniversary that was, I cannot tell for the life of me. The other date is completely lost in the mists of oblivion. (I have a lot of these mists floating around in my brain, which is scary, considering that I'm still a bit young for Alzheimer's. Yikes.)

As far as birthdays go, I'm pretty good about remembering everyone's in my immediate family (although I swear I woke up on June 12 once and forgot that it was my birthday!). Then there are a few people that I really don't know why I remember their birthdays but I do: kennethmyboy is one of these. Hmm, actually maybe he is the only one. I was going to say Becca, but her birthday is only two days after mine, and is the same day as about two different guys that I liked in the course of my life (random in itself), so that's probably why hers sticks!

Anyway. Feel free to pop over to steveforpresident'ssite and wish him a happy belated birthday. Tell him I sent you!

As for the rest of the week, the frogg is taking a holiday. If she feels like writing something, she will, but don't count on it.

Til next time, whenever that may be...

Thursday, December 09, 2004

You Googling At Me?

I think it's funny how "google" is increasingly becoming a verb in our Internet-driven age. You don't merely use Google, you google...stuff. For example, one time I googled myself, and that's how I found out about my cousin, Walt L.

Wait a second. I don't have a cousin named Walt! What?!

Well, like I said, I googled myself one day, and found a link to this guy's web site, that had my name listed as his cousin. I was completely dumbfounded, because I had never heard of him. He also indicated that I was a missionary--which I had been, for the past two years. So I really started tripping out. Who WAS this mysterious man?

I went to his site (how could I possibly resist?) and was immediately assaulted, both visually and audibly, by design and the cheesy, synthesized organ version of "Oh Donna" (at least I think that's what the song was). I scrolled down to find the line that Google had picked up with my name, and there it was...right underneath a picture of a wrinkled old woman. Actually, it was just a pencil drawing of her disembodied head, floating above a rather angry-looking, violently colored ocean.

I sat staring at this strange vision for a moment or two. Was that supposed to be me? Could it really be that there's another person in the world with the exact same name AND profession as myself, only thousands of years older?? Or...and this would be weird...could I be looking at my face in the future? Maybe Walt isn't my cousin yet, but he will be someday!

Ouch, my brain hurts.

I am not the only one who has learned something new about herself thanks to the wonders of the Internet search engine. A friend of mine found out that he was a boxing contender in Canada. Another one discovered that she was a Scientologist. Who knows what adventure in self-knowledge awaits you!

I really hope you'll let me know what you find out.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

The Single Girl, Part 2

My top five annoying things that people say to people who are single:

5) "Hey, my friend John Jacob Jingleheimer Smith is also single! You guys should really hang out."

Um, ok. I'm glad that we've figured out that Johnny and I have stuff in common like...being single. I mean, how could we NOT get along? We're both single! It's meant to be! Gah.

I could say more about this, but I doubt that I need to.

4) "But you're such a great person...why don't you have a boyfriend?"

Oh thanks, I was just thinking I needed a little salt for that wound! I honestly wonder what they expect me to answer. Perhaps I should say, "Because God is busily building my character and reliance upon Him so that I don't actually NEED the boyfriend that I want." (how about that, steveforpresident?)

Look, the bottom line is: I DON'T KNOW why I'm still single. I It's not like there is some boyfriend superstore out there and they happened to run out of the model I was looking for on the day when I went, ok? (But a boyfriend superstore--dang, how cool would that be? "I'll take two, please!" Kidding, kidding...)

3) "God's got someone for you, I just know it."

Christians are notorious for using this line. I absolutely refuse to say it to anyone, because quite frankly I DON'T know it. I don't know it for myself, so how could I possibly be sure of it for someone else? This line doesn't make any sense at all; if it was true, everyone would get married before they die, but they don't. Please don't EVER say this to me unless God has revealed it to you in triplicate: dream, Bible, and a neon sign on the freeway, like the sign on "LA Story" that tells Steve Martin what to do. I might believe you then.

2) "Well, we met when I had finally just given up my desire for a husband and surrendered to God."

The implication here is that if I can just manage to not want a man, I'll suddenly get one! This seems totally ridiculous to me the more I think about it. Throughout the Bible are numerous examples of God responding to a human's expressed desire. Look at Hannah in I Samuel begging God for a son, for example. God didn't say, "Oh, I'm sorry, Hannah. I'd love to give him to you, but first you really have to stop wanting him. When you just don't care anymore, then come back and we'll talk."

Well, I do care about getting married (most days, anyway), and I'd rather be honest with God about it. Of course, whether or not I get what I want, God still has my heart. I said "I do" to Him first, and I'm not going to turn around and walk away from Him because I do or don't get married here on earth. But why should I try not to want something that I want to want??

I will now leave you with my Number One Annoying Thing To Say To A Single Person:

1) "Have you tried the Internet?"

You know, this one really speaks for itself.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Taking the Day Off

Since I wrote three posts yesterday, I feel like I've earned a blog break today, but first I want to know where all my friends were last night. I called at least 6 of you in a row, from San Diego to San Jose, and not ONE of you answered your phones!! I mean, what are the odds? It was weird.

The cowgirl says whenever that happens to her, she starts to wonder if God is trying to get her to talk to HIM instead. Well, perhaps it's true. Goodness knows I owe Him a bit of quality time...

Anyway, have a great Tuesday, everyone. I'll be up to my usual tricks tomorrow.

Monday, December 06, 2004

I Am Lame

I have an amazing talent. It's called "making a total idiot out of myself." You have no idea how gifted I am in this regard, but then again maybe you do, if you read my "News Flash" blog (previous). Basically I wrote about the potential awkwardness of working with my ex-boyfriend should he end up employed at the Apple Store along with me. To my surprise, who should comment on my blog but--my ex-boyfriend! He was a little taken aback, as you may imagine, but not nearly as much as I was at reading his comment. So do I feel stupid now? Well, duh.

Then again, I shouldn't feel like I am in any sort of unfamiliar territory when it comes to embarrassing situations. I am the same girl who, years ago in college with a different boyfriend, was caught kinda-sorta flirting with another guy over email. How did this come to light? Oh, well, it wasn't too difficult--I sent the "cheating" email to my boyfriend by mistake. Now THAT was awkward.

Or what about the time that I was at a church event one evening, and my sister called me over to introduce me to this guy, and she asked me, "Hey have you ever seen that cartoon 'Life With Louie'?" Well, I had, and I thought it was stupid and badly drawn, and I voiced my opinions in a very decided fashion, all the while not seeing my sister's increasingly warning look, until finally she interrupted my flow and said, "Yes, well So-And-So here is one of the animators on that cartoon." I don't remember how I backpedaled out of that one, but I don't think I was very successful anyway. (My sister says she doesn't remember this, but it is oh-so-indelibly seared on MY memory.)

So I am no stranger at all to moments of unbearable uncomfortableness. On the contrary, I create them almost effortlessly. It's a gift, like I said.

But I would just like to make a few things very clear before I put an end to this baring-of-soul: 1) I don't hate my ex. 2) I think flirting with someone while you are dating someone else is wrong, by email or otherwise, and I'm not proud of the fact that I did it. 3) "Life With Louie" was, in fact, a pretty lame cartoon.

The Single Girl

My friend Becca said I should write about the plight of single girls in their late 20s. Since I am one--a single girl in her late 20s I mean--I guess that makes me as much of an expert as anybody. So here we go--Becca, this one's for you!

Most days I don't mind being single. There are worse things in life, like, oh I don't know--eating leeches or something like that. If I had to choose between being single and eating a plate of leeches every day for the rest of my life, I would not choose the leeches. (I hear people saying, "That's because she hasn't found the right guy. If she had, she would GLADLY eat leeches as the price of being with him." Maybe they have a point, but I hope not.)

Personally I think my rapier wit and blazing-hot intelligence intimidates men, and THAT'S why I'm still single. This is what I tell myself, because if that's not the case, then I am forced to assume that my physical attraction capabilities are somewhat on a par with a sea anemone, and that is not particularly encouraging.

But then again, I am at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to dating, being a Christian and having to rely on Christian guys to be on the ball. Let me explain the subtleties of dating in Christian culture. Christian girls want to be pursued, and Christian guys want God to speak in an audible voice, telling them which girl is THE ONE before they ask someone out. As far as I can tell, God doesn't seem to cooperate with the guys' wishes, so the girls are left on their own to fume at how lame Christian guys are for not pursuing them. Then they go out with non-Christians, and Christian guys are then left to fume about the lack of quality, dedicated Christian women to choose from in the dating market. A vicious cycle indeed.

Now, some may accuse me of relying more on stereotypes and sweeping generalizations than actual research and facts to make my point, but I don't care. I am not a scientist, people, I'm a WRITER. We don't need FACTS when we have IMAGINATIONS.

I will grant that maybe Christian girls are being a bit unfair in not allowing themselves to consider that maybe when a guy doesn't pursue them, that is a sign that he is not, in fact, interested. But if the girl lets herself think that, she will feel like a sea anemone, and she would rather eat a plate of leeches. So she blames the guy for being clueless, because leeches are just too gross.

It's a very strange scene. Being single sounds positively appealing in comparison, doesn't it?

But I'd like to be not single at some point. Then I can write witty posts about the perils of dating instead. What do you think, Becca?

Check back tomorrow for the second part in The Single Girl series: "Is there a "The One" for everybody?" Unless I change my mind and decide to write about something else.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Oh The Weather Outside Is Frightful...

Ok, not really. Southern California is hardly known for "frightful" weather. It's been beautiful, but it's been COLD. I am freezing my fingers off as I type this. Last night the cowgirl came into my room and found me in the fetal position around the heater again. I was lying so close to it, I almost burned myself. But at least I was warm! (I think I hear my midwest friends laughing at me, but I'm ignoring them.)

What I'd really love is a fireplace in my room. I am a huge fan of fireplaces. Some good friends of mine, who kindly let me live with them last year for about six months, have an awesome fireplace, and they really know how to make a great fire. They'd build it and I'd go fight their big black Labrador for the space right in front of it. (Yeah, that's right--I'M the top dog now.)

But there really is something so magical about a fire. I love the snap-crackle-pop of the dry wood. I love watching the way the flames dance. I like watching the ever-changing shapes in the smoke. I like the musty, earthy smell of burning wood.

You know, I'm really glad it's winter.

Getting Things Into Perspective

So I'm ready to talk about my recent bad mood. Basically I've been stressed that my life isn't quite working out according to plan these days. After two years abroad, I'm actually pretty close to being broke; I'm 29 and living with my parents; I'm stuck in Los Angeles; I am in a transitional phase which, as far as I can see, has no immediate end in sight. All these things have combined in such a way as to make me feel, some days, that I am just going to explode, or run away, or die--maybe all three! Ok, I'm exaggerating a bit--but really, only a little bit. Then today I thought of something.

A couple months ago, I was in Egypt. On my last day in Cairo, I visited a city that is also a rubbish dump. The people who live there actually live with garbage. They collect it, sort it, and do whatever else needs to be done with it. Garbage is literally everywhere. The stench of the place hits your nostrils before you even properly get into the city. My friends and I went there early in the morning, around sunrise, to visit a church that is built into the mountain there. Looking over a wall down onto the roofs of some buildings, I saw the black shapes of giant rats scurrying around over the huge bags of trash. There were lots of rats.

In the streets, I could barely breathe, the smell was so bad. I felt sick. I saw a donkey with no hair on its front legs, just raw flesh, oozing blood. Children skipped barefoot along the roads, which were nothing but dirt and more trash. I saw a woman sitting among garbage, sorting through it all with one hand while she held her breastfeeding baby with the other.

But these people had a dignity about them. There was no sense that they felt sorry for themselves or felt inferior in any way to people who might have more material possessions than they did. They smiled at us, welcomed us. They dressed their children well for school; groups of them passed by, shy smiles on shiny clean faces, the girls' hair expertly braided, white lacy socks turned down at the ankles. Watching them prance by on the way to school, chattering and laughing with each other and us while surrounded by dirt and garbage and all the trappings of severe poverty, I can hardly describe how I felt. It wasn't pity, exactly. They were above pity. I respected them, respected their ability to smile and laugh and carry on as normal people, though living in extremely difficult circumstances. And I absolutely know that, every appearance to the contrary, not one of these people is forgotten by God.

So why hasn't He done something about their poverty? I don't know. I have no answers to the questions of why some people have and some people don't, but for that very reason I should be thankful for the gifts I've been given, rather than focus on anything I perceive to be lacking. I owe it to God, and in some obscure way, I feel like I owe it to those people in the rubbish dump. How many of them would do just about anything to trade places with me? And yet I have been bemoaning the circumstances of my life, my lack of independence, my lack of finances, and who knows what else. I'm starting to see that I dishonor God through my complaining, and quite simply, I believe it hurts His feelings. God has given me so much--talents, opportunities, friends and family who support me, and much more. I can't count my blessings, because they are too many. I've made the terrible mistake of counting my "grievances" instead.

After all that, I'd like to say I've turned over a new leaf and will never complain ever again but unfortunately I know myself too well, and it saddens me to see that I am so prone to it. So maybe that's partly why I'm writing all this here, where anyone can read it. It's my way of apologising to God and giving Him the credit He deserves for taking care of me, which I deny every time I whimper and moan about what I don't have.

Like Job, I have said, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him." But when the going got a little rocky, I slandered God in front of others because things weren't panning out the way I wanted or planned. And I'm sorry, because I know He loves me, and I know I hurt Him with my negative attitude. And I hurt myself.

So am I saying I should just bottle up my feelings and not be honest about them? No. What I'm saying is, I need to start cultivating gratitude in my soul. Yes, I'm going through a tough time right now. But I'm not going through it alone. God is right here with me, and He has also generously provided help in the form of my family and my friends, and THAT'S what I need to remind myself of, more often than dwelling on the extent of my problems.

In the end, if there is one thing that I am learning through this whole crazy time, it's this: God really is faithful, even when I am not. And I'm more grateful for that than for anything else.

"My eyes are ever toward the Lord..." Psalm 25:15a
"The Lord is my shepherd, I shall lack nothing." Psalm 23:1