frogg files

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

Thursday, October 28, 2004

A Halloween Story

Well, I had all these grandiose plans to write a fun little Halloween story, complete with dark and stormy nights, in honor of the holiday that I really don't like all that much on principle. That is, I like dressing up, I like the emphasis on junk food and candy, but the whole concept of Halloween is more than a little weird to me.

For example, today I went for a walk with a friend, and saw...well, you know how some houses go all out at Christmas time with decorations? Like this one house in my neighborhood when I was a kid, I mean they had the full on animatronic Winter Wonderland scene, with fake snow galore and cute woodland creatures on seesaws and swings and a 6-foot-tall Santa standing in front of their doorway waving at passersby. Ok, so this house I saw today was like the "dark side" version of the winter wonderland house. Skeletons everywhere, numerous gravestones in the driveway, a hideously disfigured body hanging from one of the trees (eew gross), a giant hairy tarantula covering their bushes, a very lifelike--or deathlike?--statue of a guy holding a knife in one hand and his own messily severed head in the other...and that's just the OUTSIDE of the house. My friend informed me that the inside is just as "festive."

All I know is, I'm glad I'm not one of their kids. I wouldn't want to come home and sleep in my own house, if I were!

But about this story I was going to write. Well. I didn't write it. However, I have the picture that was going to go with it, which I am posting here. Maybe you can make up your own story to go with it.

Take care, kids. Be safe out there. This is the frogg, heading back to Los Angeles. See you there.

FrankenDutch!
Originally uploaded by grackyfrogg.


Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Scary Stuff

I'm not a big fan of being scared.

I don't do well with scary movies, for example. I find it very hard to convince myself that "it's just a movie." Oh, I realize that it's fictional on some abstract, intellectual level. But on a heart-pounding, visceral, gut-wrenching level, it seems all too real.

I'll never forget the time I watched "Pet Cemetery." It was late at night (of course), and it was just me, my brother, his girlfriend, and my boyfriend in the house. I think I almost cried when the movie was over, and not from an overdose of sentiment. No, it was out and out terror. I made my boyfriend check every single room of the house before he left, especially under my bed and in my closet. (I would have asked my brother, but he was also terrified. He and I shared a room that night. And no, I'm not telling you how old we were.)

One time, years ago, I had to go to Knott's Scary Farm, back when I worked with the YMCA and was a volunteer youth leader for the jr. high kids. I did NOT want to go, but it was a field trip for the kids, and I had to chaperone. For those of you who have not had the dubious privilege of experiencing Knott's Scary Farm, let me just say this: if you have a heart condition, or are even remotely highly strung, you should avoid it at all costs.

It's not just the people dressed in terribly realistic costumes of werewolves, witches, and other creatures of the night, who hang out in the shadows until you walk by and then rush out at you without warning. They're scary, alright, but since you can usually spot them before they jump, run, or slide on their knees out toward you, it's harder to be caught off guard. But when you go inside the mazes--all bets are off. Take a clean pair of underwear along; trust me, you'll need it.

I was in one of the mazes with some of the other jr. high leaders, and I was clutching the backpack of one of the guys, trying to stick as close as possible to safety. The thing about the mazes is that the passages are so narrow. If something reaches out of the shadows, there really is no escape. I was also trying to walk with my eyes closed and it wasn't working too well.

Then I had the sensation of someone following close behind me. I looked over my shoulder and screamed!!! A monster! RIGHT BEHIND ME!!! I didn't stop to think, but acted swiftly. I was still holding onto my friend's backpack, so I did what any normal, red-blooded, terrified female would do--with superhuman, adrenaline-boosted strength, I swung my friend around and shoved him straight into the arms of the monster, and took off running!

Not my finest hour, I admit. But greatly amusing for everyone around me.

All this to say, Halloween is not exactly my favorite holiday. I think it's strange to "celebrate" death by dressing up as...well, a dead person or a zombie or whatever. It's ugly and scary and wrong. On the other hand, the free candy is a definite perk. If you get your hands on Bottlecaps, save me some! They're my favorite!

So, the moral of my story: have fun this Halloween, stay safe, and don't invite me to any scary movies, unless you are prepared to hold my hand and listen to my whimpering and moaning all the way through. There, you have been warned! Mmmuu-hahahahahaha!!!!

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Heros and Hovercrafts

I want someone to invent the personal hovercraft car, with an autopilot switch.

The thought hit me as I was driving up to the San Francisco Bay Area from Los Angeles recently, along that long straight stretch of boredom known as I-5.

The last time I took that route, which takes about 6 hours, I was in a car with no air conditioning, making the trip in August when it is about as hot as it gets in California. I was not at all appreciative of the dry, dusty scenery, as you can imagine. This time, though, the view was beautiful, after the recent rains. The air was fresh and clear, and as afternoon wore on, golden sunlight tangled with lengthening shadows on the rolling hills and farming fields. The sight of the mountains meeting the valley as I came down over the Grapevine was particularly picturesque--grey clouds with bright white lining, and long shafts of light slanting down into the valley.

All this beauty did not make the drive any less long, however, and I began to wish that I could just program my destination into a computer system that would take over the task of driving entirely, leaving me free to relax and possibly even sleep in the back seat. You know, something like the vehicles they have in the future as projected by the movie Demolition Man.

I kind of liked Demolition Man. Well, ok, the movie was dumb, but I liked Wesley Snipes, who played the bad guy. I am not as crazy about Sylvester Stallone, who was the good guy. But I like Sly better than some of the other brawn-over-brains actors out there; for example, Jean Claude Van Damme. Did anyone else think it was weird that in Kickboxer, Jean-Claude, bless his arrogant little heart, could barely string two words together in intelligible English and yet was supposedly the brother of a guy who spoke with the most stereotypical American accents you could possibly hope to find?

Bruce Willis is another typical action-hero guy, but I like him a lot. He's hilarious. He also experienced the joys of hovercrafting, as a taxi driver of the future, in Fifth Element. For some reason I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. I can't give any good reasons for this; it's just one of those things that simply IS.

And then there is Steven Segal. He is the one I really love to hate. I think he wants to be seen as the "sensitive" type of burly muscle-hero, but all I see is a guy who can't seem to stop squinting and who talks in a perpetual whisper. He also smirks alot in what I think he hopes is an all-wise, all-knowing fashion, but which comes across, to me at least, as all-annoying.

So who does that leave us? Oh yes, good ol' Arnie Schwarzenegger. I think the Terminator was without doubt the best possible role for him. He didn't have to talk much, and when he did, it was ok for him to sound weird, because after all he was a robot; it's acceptable for them to be unemotional and monosyllabic. Unfortunately, I don't think he got to drive any hovercrafts. (He did, however, look pretty good on a Harley.)

I know what you're thinking: what does all this have to do with anything? Well.. nothing at all, really. There, do you feel better now?

Monday, October 25, 2004

Road Trip

I don't know if I've ever done a real road trip. You know, where you go with a group of friends on some wild and crazy adventure, crossing at least three states while acting out some sort of coming-of-age drama involving sex, drugs, or rock 'n' roll. (Hey, that's what Hollywood calls a road trip, and we all know that Hollywood is always right!)

No, but I have done my fair share and then some of driving in my 29 years. One time my brother and I took a trip out to Montana. We set off from Los Angeles, and drove all the way to Provo, Utah, where we spent the night with some friends who go to BYU. Somewhere in Utah I vividly remember seeing a billboard for Shasta cola (do they even MAKE Shasta anymore?) that had a bunch of huge 3-D tongues stuck all over it, all improbably colored in pink, yellow, blue and other bright, cheerful hues. Mick Jagger would've been jealous. I was amused. My brother was driving.

We stopped in Salt Lake City as well and saw City Hall. On the steps were these big bronze statues of...beehives. Beehives? Is that, like, the state mascot or something? I never did figure it out, but I noticed that beehives made an appearance on freeway signs and elsewhere. Hmmm.

I don't remember my brother and I talking much, except when we passed the Grand Tetons on our way to Yellowstone, and then we proceeded to make up an entire episode of Seinfeld which both of us still remember to this day, in which Elaine, Jerry, George, Kramer, Newman and the hyperactive Johnny Cochrane-like lawyer all made an appearance and somehow ended up in Yellowstone. I'd tell it to you, but it won't be nearly as funny in print as it is when we act out the lines. You'll just have to trust me when I say it was hilarious. Try to imagine it, you'll really laugh.

My favorite memory of Yellowstone was when my brother saw a huge female elk on the side of the road, and pulled up next to her so we could get a picture. She didn't seem too concerned, and my brother got the camera ready. Then we heard a weird noise.

Neither of us had heard an elk bugle before, so we just looked at each other. "What was that?" we both said. We heard a movement in the forest, and turned quickly to look. The sun had set and it was getting quite dark, but suddenly we saw a set of branches moving not far away. It took only a few more moments to realize that they weren't branches, but ANTLERS, and that they were coming our way at a pretty quick rate, very much attached to the huge bull elk who was apparently the female's jealous boyfriend!

"Let's get out of here!" one of us said. My brother dropped the camera as he threw the van back into gear and slammed on the accelerator. We drove off without ever getting our picture, although later, when we got everything developed from the trip, we came across a photo of the car seat, my brother's jeans and the edge of his flannel shirt (this was back when he still wore flannel). We realized he must have hit the button as he dropped the camera, so instead of getting a cool picture of an elk, we got a picture of...his jeans. Typical!

I remember on our way back from Montana, we did the whole journey without stopping to sleep. I think it was something like 20 hours or so. I drove the homestretch from Vegas to LA, leaving Vegas around midnight. I tried every trick in the book to keep me awake...rolling the window down, pinching myself, counting how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop (you think I'm joking about that last one, but I'm not). We were completely exhausted by the time we rocked up to our parents' house, somewhere in the neighborhood of 4am.

I've never forgotten that trip. I've never forgotten the little boy I saw in Wyoming, getting off of his schoolbus and making his way up the long drive to his house as he played air drums and danced like his life depended on it, utterly oblivious to anyone who might be watching. I've never forgotten the crisp cool air of Jackson Hole, where we stopped for Subway sandwiches, nor have I forgotten the eerie quietness of the land around Old Faithful, marked by rising steam and geysers, under a rich sunset and a silver moon.

Hmmm. I thought I was ready to settle down for awhile, but memories make me restless. Once you've been bitten by the travel bug, I guess you never fully recover. Here's to a lifetime journey...

"Blessed is the one...whose heart is set on pilgrimage..." Psalm 84.5b


Thursday, October 21, 2004

Interactive Friday

Well, here we are, the second week since I started this blog is almost finished, and I for one am having a lot of fun with it. I hope you are too!

Now I was thinking: I really like reading what you guys have to say too, but only a few of you are posting, and I just KNOW that more of you are reading these posts and you're being awfully quiet! So I've decided that Fridays are going to be Interactive Day on the frogg files. (I tried to think of a cooler name, but I couldn't really be bothered to try for very long, sorry.) This will be the day when I will ask a question, or pose a discussion topic, and you get to comment on it to your little hearts' delight. Ok?

So since we've been talking about guys and girls and RELATIONSHIP stuff, I thought I'd kick off the first Interactive Day with this question:

What's the strangest thing you've ever seen on a long road trip?

(Hey, that doesn't have ANYTHING to do with relationships! Huh. Oh well.)

Ok kids, I want to hear your stories. In the meantime, have a great weekend...this is the frogg, signing off in NorCal.


(As an alternate question to consider: if you can think of a better name than Interactive Fridays for my Friday posts, by all means post your suggestion!)

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

The Game, part 1

My "Mystery of Marriage" post spawned some interesting conversations with a few friends. I was chatting with one of them on MSN soon after publishing it to this blog, and after he told me how hysterically funny it was, and how amazingly beautiful and talented I really am (ok, slight paraphrase there), he said, rather cryptically I thought, "Why don't you be more forward?"

"More forward about what?" I asked.

"About guys. If you dig a guy ask him out."

And all this time I'd thought he was sane.

"Are you NUTS?" I said. "Are you SERIOUS?"

"Yep," he said.

Riiiiiiight.

Well, I promised to give the question some careful consideration, possibly even some prayer. It always sounds good to say you are going to pray about something, very holy and spiritual. Well, there are actually a lot of people I know who WOULD pray about it if they said they were going to, and believe me when I say I wish I was a lot more like them than me. I always have good intentions to pray, I firmly believe in the importance of prayer, there are times (which lately are increasing) when I even ENJOY praying. I just kind of...forget to do it occasionally. Or often, as the case may be.

But I am digressing, which by the way is one of my many amazing talents. The point is, I didn't really give it careful thought, nor did I pray about it, because I forgot (which is probably more of a medical condition than a talent).

I'm thinking about it now, though, and here's what I've concluded. My friend is a lunatic (just kidding bees!). I mean, I'm a woman, right? I'm supposed to be mysterious and coy, right? It's my job to give off subliminal signals, and the guy's job to read them (and of course we all know how well guys do THAT) and come chasing after me. It's all part of The Game, after all.

The thing is, I'm getting really fed up with the whole idea of The Game.

In a nutshell, here's what I've learned from The Game: who I am will never be nearly as cool as whatever I project myself to be. My real self is probably pretty lame, so cover her up at all costs.

Well, doesn't that sound fun, kids. Who's up for Monopoly? At least those rules make sense!

I just want to know: Is it possible to not play The Game...and still win?

Ring, Ring

So I'm curious: am I the only person in the twenty-first century who, when a phone rings doesn't feel the slightest obligation to answer it? Who is fine with just...letting it ring?

I've never been much of a phone person. When I was growing up, the calls were never for me. Since I HAVE grown up (ha!) I find that nothing much has changed. Now I get fond, loving calls from concerned telemarketers who, even though they don't even know me, want to make sure I know about the latest in carpet cleaning supplies, because my life will be truly incomplete if I don't buy this amazing product that I don't know how I managed to live without before I heard about it.

I don't like to brag, but I even got a call from Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger the other day. Apparently he doesn't have enough to do with untangling the California economy, so he is making up for it by recording phone messages for likely voters. Unfortunately, I thought he was a telemarketer and hung up on him.

For any telemarketers who might by some chance be reading this: I'm sorry. You have a crappy job. I really hope that you get at least one nice person every day who will listen to your spiel and not hang up on you, because wow, how depressing it must be to hear a click every time you start talking to someone. But honestly, why, WHY do you call at 9pm? Or in the middle of dinner? Or...well, why do you call? I hate to say this, but no one I know likes to receive telemarketing calls! I mean, do YOU even like it?

Every now and then, I break my policy and I will answer the phone when it rings. When I pick it up, and there is a little pause before the person answers my pleasant greeting, I know I'm in for it. I do try to be polite, but it's hard when they don't let you get a word in edgewise, like the guy who called me from Discover card the other day to inform me that they were going to send me information about some credit protection plan that I don't want. It's a 30-day free trial, he said, after which I will start to be charged for it. Only he said that in about two minutes, with a lot of other stuff that I couldn't understand because he was talking so fast. As soon as he took a breath, I said (politely I thought) "I don't want it," and he said emphatically over the next 2 minutes that I needed to have all the materials to make an informed decision--so he was sending it to me anyway. I think I'll cancel my Discover card. Good work, Mr Telemarketing Guy.

As I've been writing this for the past 15-20 minutes, I've heard the phone ring about five times. Well, I am home, but I am not answering. You can call, but you won't talk to me! I am beyond the reach of your feeble attempts to communicate with me! I HAVE DEFEATED YOU! Hahahahahahaha!!!!

Ahem. Sorry.

I'm, uh, going to go do some work now.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Jealousy is a Green-Eyed Cat with Sharp Claws

How do I know this? Oh, well, jealousy and I go way back. We're quite close, actually, in a wary sort of way. Wary on my part, that is. Did I mention the sharp claws?

Yesterday Jealousy showed up unexpectedly and caught me off guard in a big way. I was on my way to Starbucks with a friend, and she happened to mention in the course of normal, casual conversation that a mutual acquaintance (actually a former co-worker of mine) had recently landed a book deal. With a major publisher. The guy is 27 years old, which makes him younger than me. (Ouch! Claws!) He's going to have a book published in two years, and at the moment he is traveling through Europe to research his project, I'm sure at the expense of the major publisher.

So am I happy for him? Yes and no. I'm happy because he was always a good friend to me and an excellent writer, he's worked hard at it, he's passionate about it, and, he must be totally excited. I knew soon after I met him, I think, that I would see his name in print some day. I was jealous then, too! Not in quite so seething a way as I am now, but still a little green around the edges of my aura (if I believed in auras), you know?

I'm not happy because it didn't happen to me. He is going to be a successful writer. And I...well, at least I have my blog, right?

Of course, complicating matters is the fact that I'm a Christian and as such I'm not allowed to be jealous. But I am! So what do I do?

I can always go the typical Christian route and smile and say something along the lines of, "Praise the Lord, it's all in His hands. Thank you, Father, for this valuable lesson in character-building." The problem is, I'm not particularly grateful at the moment. Give me a year or two, maybe things will be different. (Maybe.)

Or I can take the road too often less-traveled (at least by me) and ask myself some hard questions, such as the one I'm sure a few of you are asking right now: "So what's stopping YOU from doing what you're friend is doing? Why don't you stop your moaning and groaning and just WRITE A BOOK?"

I could come up with any number of excuses, believe me. If I'm an expert at anything, it's excuses (and unasked-for opinions, but we won't go there, at least not this time). However, if I'm honest, which I do try to be as a rule, I have to face the fact that it's probably because moaning and groaning is much easier, and much MUCH less costly.

This is not a pleasant epiphany.

It's even less pleasant when I go a step further and realize that I treat my spiritual life the way I treat my writing life: I talk about it, I think about it, I occasionally put a bare minimum of time and effort into it, but for the most part I simply want the benefits of doing lots of work that I seem to have no real intention of doing.

(And this is the raw material God gets to work with. Lucky Him.)

I hope that in a year's time, I can look back at this period in my life, when I am between all sorts of crossroads and decisions that need to be made, and see that I have changed for the better. I hope that I become a lot less lazy, a lot more organized, and a lot more devoted to achieving intimacy with my Father. I hope that I'm a lot less jealous of my writer friend.

I know one thing. I won't be able to take any credit for any changes, because I've realized over the years how incapable I am of making them. God will get the glory. He's the one doing most of the work, after all.

And this is true for all of us who have set our hearts to follow Him. Let's not beat around the bush: we will fail alot. We stumble every day. If we're not jealous, we're selfish. If not selfish, judgmental. If not judgmental...well, you get the point. It's always something. And that can get depressing, if we don't remember that God knows all about it already. "He knows our frame, he remembers that we are dust." (Psalm 103:14). That's what grace is all about. He knows what a mess we're in, and He loves us anyway. He's at work In all of us til the day He brings us home.

And aren't you glad, at the end of the day, that He is?

"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." Philippians 1:6





Thursday, October 14, 2004

The Mystery of Marriage

I've figured it out. Why I'm not married, I mean. It's always been a bit of a puzzle to people who know me. I know this because they say things like this: "Why aren't you married by now?" Followed by this: "You're beautiful, talented, funny, easy-going, blah blah blah." And after I finish basking in the praise, I suddenly think, "Hey yeah. If I'm so great and all, why AREN'T I married?"

So it's been a bit of a mystery, but today I think I figured it out. Here it is.

I can't remember to take the garbage out.

So simple, really. Let me tell you how I arrived at my conclusion. My parents went on vacation this week. My mom asked me to take the garbage down. I said sure, no problem, I'll take care of everything. I didn't. I forgot. Whenever I remembered, it just wasn't convenient for me to haul it down to the dumpster. Then I would forget again. Today I finally took it down, but of course the garbage man had already been and gone.

What I'm trying to say is, I have a preternatural inability to do anything right when it comes to domestic matters. The garbage is just one example. I also can't cook, clean, or maintain an organized filing system for my bills (or anything else for that matter). I have a Palm Pilot I never use, except as an alarm clock (which I ignore anyway). I keep receipts in my wallet, and forget to go through them until my wallet gets to the point where I can't close it, and then I just throw them away.

Somehow, guys seem to have figured out my non-domestic tendencies. I don't know how, because in general they give off this air of stunning cluelessness (not ALL guys, ok?) about almost anything that has to do with the inner workings of the female mind and heart. But, unfortunately for me, I think they have a radar that is primed to pick up domestic signals from potential mates (especially in terms of cooking skills), and in my case, there are just no blips on the screen. So they pass right by, like a...submarine or a...I don't know, plane that uses radar? Um, yeah. Well, you get my drift.

Well, I'm here to say that there is more to me than making beds and whipping up a gourmet meal in 15 minutes or less. I may not be Martha Stewart, but who wants to be? Look where she is now--prison! That's right. An overactive domesticary gland landed her in the clink, folks. Ok, maybe it was her lying tongue more than the gland that I just made up, but who cares. The point is, she's in jail and I'm not.

No, wait, that's not my point! What was I talking about?

Oh right, why I'm not married. I have more to say on this subject, I'm sure, but I'm getting hungry. Time for dinner. I'm off to Panda Express, after which I'll sit down and avoid writing several more pages of the next Great American novel. Hear that, men? You'll just have to fall in love with my amazing talents.



Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Under Pressure

I wonder sometimes what happened to my life. When did it become so...unpredictable? So strange? So unfamiliar?

Actually I can answer that question. June 2002. That's when I left the United States for New Zealand. The first time. Who could've imagined the roller coaster ride I was in for, over the next two years? Not me, for sure.

What I'd like to convey right now is the feeling of falling apart that I can't seem to escape. The fact that I don't have it all together, no matter what sort of image I manage to project. I don't know what I'm doing with my life. I am a mass of unfulfilled dreams, debilitating insecurities, strong doubts, tentative-but still determined-faith.

Some days I want to scream. Other days, I just want to lie in bed and never get out. And sometimes--like this past weekend--I take a break from my life to pretend I have a normal one again, and I hang out with friends, laugh, watch movies, go out for coffee...and imagine that everything makes sense.

I guess I feel a little like...well, like Mt St Helens a few weeks ago. Under pressure, but not quite ready to blow my stack quite yet.

Why am I saying all this here? Mostly because I can. But also, I just want you know...if I seem edgy, restless, easily irritated...I'm just trying to keep it together, and maybe I spring a few cracks here and there. Don't take it personally. I don't mean it that way.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Friday

It's Friday! I don't know why I'm excited; since I don't have a job, one day is pretty much like all the rest, but I always feel kind of happy when Friday rolls around. I suppose it's a sort of Pavlovian response, born of the days when I DID work, and when I positively LIVED for Friday. It's funny that I didn't live for, say, Saturday, which is actually the day off. Why is that? And I don't think I'm the only one who feels this way. I mean, I don't know too many people who walk around saying "TGIS, guys--Thank God It's Saturday!" Do you?

So there is something about Friday. Maybe it's the anticipation of what's to come when Saturday does finally arrive. I almost always find anticipation more enjoyable than actually living in the moment. Not always, but a fair amount of the time. Friday is shot through with the golden thread of anticipation: the weekend hasn't happened yet, so that means anything is possible. And anything can be a lot of fun!

So what will you be doing this weekend? Post a comment and let me know!

Til next time...

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Prelude: Mt Sinai


Me on Mt Sinai
Originally uploaded by grackyfrogg.
It was somewhere in the neighborhood of 3am when our brave little band of P17ers set off to climb Mt Sinai, not far from the border of Egypt. I think I have mentioned that I am not a morning person. Yet somehow I was strangely coherent and excited to be on this journey, making my way over the rocky, winding road that leads to the top of a mountain where, once upon a time, a man and God met face to face.

The magic wore off after about 20 minutes, largely because of the fact that we were sharing the narrow trail with a bazillion other people who also thought that seeing the sunrise from Mt Sinai's peak would be a good idea. Not to mention the hordes of Bedouins along the way who kept offering us camel rides every time we turned a bend in the road.

"You want camel? Only 10 pounds."

"No thanks, I don't want a camel."

"Very good camel!"

"No, look, really I don't--"

"Only 10 pounds!"

"I said, no camel!"

Pause. "Donkey?"

"NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!"

This sort of dialogue was repeated roughly every 30 seconds or so, which, as you may imagine, began to wear away at my mood of awestruck wonder and reverent spirituality.

It took about 3 hours to reach the top. We staked out a few spots for all of us, amidst the hundreds of other pilgrims. It was freezing cold, just before dawn. The sky was so clear. The Bedouins were making a killing, renting out masses of musty, hairy blankets for 10 pounds.

We didn't have to wait long. The sun rose about half an hour later, a red disc in the east, an event which was captured on a seemingly endless array of cameras that appeared almost in unison. (Unfortunately, one camera it was NOT recorded on was mine, because I was really too cold to be bothered with getting it out of its case.)

Now, I would like to say that I experienced the presence of God in a new and mighty way on the mountain. I would like to say that I descended transformed, my face shining like Moses', a vivid testimony to my close encounter of the divine kind. But I'm afraid I would be lying, and that would seriously trash my holiness rating, which is a bit tattered these days anyway.

But I can tell you what I DID experience. The beauty of worshipping God with a bunch of people that I hadn't even known just weeks before, singing His praises from the heights, nestled among the ruins of what appeared to be an old church, as several Bedouin boys watched and listened. Looking out over the raw, untamed beauty of the mountains that rose up like rows of savage teeth all around us, rooted, like Sinai, in the desert valley below. Watching as a little bird playfully hovered over the plunging cliffside, then dove out of sight, only to fly up and hover once more, as if it were playing a game with itself. Having communion with a little red wine and pita bread.

In the end, it doesn't matter that I left feeling like I hadn't touched God. Now I know that, through it all, He was touching me, giving me treasures that can't be taken away, that will never fade or rust or be destroyed, because as long as I live, these memories will stay with me, and I'm a richer person for having them.

Thanks, God. What can I say...you rock my world.

A Morning Tale

Life is full of ironies. For example, yesterday I wrote about how much I love sleep. And I do. But then last night I was up til well past midnight because...I couldn't sleep! Typical. Even worse is the fact that I woke up before 8am, because I am not a morning person. But I was lying there, dozing, and I started thinking about snowboarding and how much I desperately want to do it this season, money or no money, I just want to get up there on the slopes a few times, when suddenly my eyes popped wide open as I remembered that my beautiful Burton Nicola Thost signature board was lying in the back of my sister's truck, and that truck (which had seen far, far better days) had given up the ghost at last and been hauled away to a charity that takes used cars, only I didn't know if anyone had happened to notice that my board was in the back! I leaped out of bed in an absolute panic (which is not at all how I like to start my mornings, as a rule), and ran down the stairs, all the while with visions of my board either getting destroyed at a junkyard, crunched up inside this truck (oh Lord have mercy), or else of some happy person on the charity crew discovering my board in the trunk ("Hey guys, take a look at what I found!"). Neither scenario was acceptable! Although I suppose, as a Christian, I should be happy if I somehow manage (however inadvertently) to bring happiness to others, but darn it, what about MY happiness this time?

I found the board leaning up against the outside wall of our garage. Crisis averted.

There should be a moral to this story, but it's too early for me to think of one.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

I'm sitting in my favorite local coffee shop (and no, it isn't Starbucks!), even though I don't really like coffee all that much. But I like the atmosphere of coffee shops. Directly across from me is a framed picture, 50s style, of a woman holding a mug, and over and under her wide-eyed, smiling face are the words "Coffee! You can sleep when you're dead!"

Hmmm.

Me, I like my sleep, and I don't want to wait til I'm dead to enjoy the pleasures of oblivion. If I believed in reincarnation, which I don't, I'm sure I would have been a lazy housecat in another life. As it is, I might just have to face the fact that I'm a lazy human being in this one.

Case in point: I should be writing about my recent trip to the Middle East right now. People are breathlessly waiting for the report (well, waiting anyway, breathless or not). Instead, I'm writing this pointless blog. Why? Who knows? It's all part of the mystery of my inner workings, and if I don't understand myself, good luck to anyone else.

But about the Middle East. It's not that I don't want to write about it. I do. But where do I start? I was chatting with a friend recently, who made the comment that I probably had more stories to tell from the past month than from my entire time in New Zealand over the past 2 years. And he is right.

I want to tell you about the Arab man who took my hand and put my finger in the bullet hole in his head, a souvenir from the time he was shot in 1967, when he was eight months old. Or about sitting in the living room of the Palestinian woman whose daughter was the first female suicide bomber. Watching the sunrise from the top of Mt Sinai. Going to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Singing worship songs from the top of Mt Nebo. Seeing how the morning sun gleams on the golden Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. Floating in the Dead Sea. Nearly getting hit by a truck while riding a donkey through a Bedouin village at Petra (seriously).

All these stories and more are waiting to be told. And at least some of them will be, I promise.

I may just have to do something wildly out of character to help speed up the process, such as, I don't know, have a few cups of coffee first? And maybe, God help me, a little less sleep...

Monday, October 04, 2004

back at the lily pad

Hi everybody, welcome to my new blog, which will hopefully get updated a lot more frequently than my web page, but don't despair--you haven't seen the last of grackyfroggink.com! I have some ideas for the future of the site, they just involve me being a lot less lazy than I am. However, miracles can and do happen!

I just wanted to let you know that I'm back from my travels in the Middle East. Thank you for all your support and prayers during that time. I will be writing more about it and sending out a longer update about it by email, but for now I just wanted to let you know that I made it home alive and in one piece!

love to all, this is the frogg signing out...