frogg files

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

Monday, January 31, 2005

Sanctuary

I am behind on a writing deadline, so I don't have much time to blog today. I'm not feeling particularly creative this morning anyway. Which is not to say I'm in a bad mood, because I'm not. How could I be, when it is springtime in January? God, I love the sun. And blue skies. And flowers. And the color green.

Last week I took the cowgirl's dog for a walk at a nearby park. There is a dam out there, and a little lake. We strolled along the trail that meandered beside the water, and then left it behind and came to a meadow, full of those tiny yellow flowers that are probably weeds, but I love them anyway because they are so bright and cheery. The trees were barren, except for the robins and other songbirds flitting between their branches. The sky was blue and only barely brushed with clouds here and there. The freeway was only a hundred yards or so away, but somehow everything seemed quiet in this oasis, this sanctuary of peace. It was the sort of place where you couldn't help but think that if you just sat under one of the trees for awhile, God was bound to turn up and plop Himself down beside you to enjoy your company and some time in the sun. The sort of place that you could imagine Him walking through, "in the cool of the day" as it says in Genesis, when it describes God coming to take his evening stroll through the Garden of Eden with His kids, Adam and Eve.

I'm really glad God makes places like this. And like Shell Ridge near Mt Diablo in northern California. And Padre's Trail here in my town. And just about everywhere in New Zealand.

Sanctuaries of peace. Where are yours?

Friday, January 28, 2005

Just For Fun

http://www.queryletters.blogspot.com

Since I've been back in LA, I've noticed an interesting phenomenon. Lots of people I talk to seem to be writers. And everytime someone says they are a writer, and I ask what they write, they say, "I'm a screenwriter" or "I write for TV." (In the Bay Area, everyone wrote short stories, magazine articles, or novels. An intriguing dichotomy indeed, and yet more proof that California really IS two different states masquerading as one.)

Of course, with so much competition in "the industry", it's tough to make it big as a writer here in the land of the silver screen. This fact is doubly proven by the blog site posted above, which I highly recommend to anyone who is need of a good laugh. It features actual query letter pitches by aspiring screenwriters. I laughed out loud when I read the three most recent posts.

Enjoy, and have a happy Friday!

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

A Backdoor For Atheism?

In this week's Time magazine, the following quote apears in an article about the push for intelligent design (ID) being taught in schools alongside evolution:

"Teaching evidence against evolution is a backdoor way of teaching creationism," says Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education.

I suppose, then, the case could be made that teaching evolution as the only explanation for existence is really a backdoor way of teaching atheism, no? Besides which, Scott's statement seems outrageously defensive: if there is evidence against evolution, why shouldn't that be taught as well? What, truly, is the harm? If evolution is true, it will stand. If not, I would think Scott, and anyone else, would want people to discover the truth. I mean, isn't that what science is all about, at the end of the day?

I am not advocating that public schools start teaching from Genesis 1. All I'm saying is, why should anyone be afraid of raising questions about evolution in the classroom? Don't we want to inspire kids to actually, well, think?

Maybe people are worried that kids will start to believe in God. Why, though? I mean, what makes believing in God worse than believing in nothing at all? I am genuinely, honestly curious about this.

Thoughts, anyone?

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

A Mugger I Have Known

One of the things I miss about the Bay Area is the adrenaline rush of never knowing when you might get mugged by a guy with a fake gun.

This actually happened to me once, in Berkeley. (Just about anything can happen in Berkeley, and a lot usually does. It's that kind of place.)

I was out with a few friends, two guys and a girl. We went to a bar called the Albatross, which was located in a not-so-great area, but then again that accounts for vast tracts of Berkeley at night, I'd say. Anyway, the Albatross was pretty cool. They have games you can play, like Taboo. Taboo is especially fun if you play with someone who is drunk, I discovered. We paired off for teams, and I got stuck with the guy who'd been drinking. Oddly enough, we won.

Around 1am we'd had our fill of Taboo and drinks, so we headed out to the car, which we'd parked on the street behind the bar. As we walked to it, a guy literally came out of the shadows and demanded our money, just like in the movies. Well, the bad movies anyway.

At that point everything became surreal. He was waving a gun, and shouting. However, I think he was kind of new to the mugging game, because he actually let us take the money out of our wallets, rather than just snatching everything and running. That seemed a little amateurish to me, but I for one wasn't going to say anything.

I also wasn't going to say anything about the fact that the gun looked a little strange. For example, it seemed to have masking tape on it. When discussing the whole episode later, the others were agreed that it was probably a cap gun. But it wasn't the sort of thing we were going to bring up for clarification. "Excuse me, Mr Robber Man, but is that a real gun or a fake one? We'd just like to know for sure before we cooperate with your demands. Oh, you shot one of us! I guess it's real then. Here's my $25."

My friend Jen was the last one to get her money out, because she had one of those giant purses that you can fit a whole house in, and was having a little trouble locating her wallet. The guy waved the gun around and started cussing at her and yelling to her to hurry up. She looked him in the eye and said in her teacher's voice (the sort she reserved for her misbehaving first graders, I've no doubt), "Alright, I'm getting it." I had to hand it to her. Not everyone can pull off the cool and snotty attitude when a gun is being pointed at their head. Even if it's a fake gun, which we were still not entirely sure about at that point.

Finally he had all our money, and then came my favorite part. He told us to go running away, down the street away from him. Riiiight...we were going to go running down another dark street, to meet up with another potential robber in the shadows? Nice try. Instead, we sort of ambled away, or perhaps it was more like sauntering. Whatever the case, I wondered later if that made him mad, that we didn't run. Probably ruined the dramatic story he would tell to his fellow hoodlums later. "Yeah, and then I told them to run, and they just calmly walked off." Don't think that would earn him brownie points among the lords of the underworld, really.

Then the police got annoyed with us because we didn't call them right away. Oh, I'm sorry, officer...how could I have been so silly as to want to get away from the scene of the crime and back to the safety of my home as quickly as possible! Really thoughtless of me; if I had only known how much harder that would have made your job, I doubtless would have stuck around, waiting for Mugger #2 to come along, maybe with a real gun this time.

But in spite of the mugging, I think Berkeley is a great place. And I'd probably go back to the Albatross. I'll just take along some bigger, meaner guys next time.

Memories of A Road Trip Past

Last night, on the spur of the moment, I drove out to Calabasas to meet up with my brother and a few of his friends, one of whom was a fellow adventurer on a road trip to the Grand Canyon that my brother and I took about five or six years ago. Nearly every time I see him, I am irresistibly reminded of that fateful journey...

It all started in a hot tub. Ok, relax, that's not what it sounds like! My brother and I, his friend Brent, another friend Tim, and a girl from New Zealand who was staying with us named Alice were all hanging out in the jacuzzi one night, and someone asked Alice what one thing she would really like to see in the States before she had to go back to New Zealand. She thought a moment, then said, "The Grand Canyon." It occurred to both me and my brother that we hadn't ever seen the Grand Canyon either. We decided we should go, and Brent decided he should come too. Two days later, the four of us piled into our trusty Supercar (a well-traveled Toyota Previa) and headed east.

I don't remember much about the drive, except for one point where we were all really bored and started imitating those weird plastic flowers that moved to music that some deluded manufacturer actually MADE for SALE. I don't know what prompted us to do this, probably just the thought of how passing motorists would view our strange, jerky dance movements in the car. (Actually that's making me laugh right now.)

We eventually got to our motel, which was called something like "El Conquistador" even though there was a large Union Jack flying above it. The manager was a jolly Englishman. Go figure.

The next day, we drove out to the Canyon. It was beautiful. It was sunny. It was warm. We hiked a little way down, laughing at the sign with a large skull and crossbones that said hiking in the canyon could lead to injury or death. Little did we know...

Half an hour or so later, as we were hiking back out of the canyon, a storm came up. At first it was just a few drops of rain. Then we heard thunder. "How cool," I thought. "A thunderstorm in the Grand Canyon!" We got on a tram that took us to the next point around the rim, and got off in the midst of an absolute downpour. We still thought this was great fun, however, and ran merrily to the lookout point, laughing at how wet we were getting and what a jolly time we were all having.

Then the lightning started. Oh, and the rain started coming down harder. Sideways, because the wind had picked up considerably. We stopped laughing.

But we still weren't too worried, because we knew another tram was due to come, any minute. Aaaaany minute, yeah. Well, any minute passed. In fact, quite a few minutes passed, and I for one started getting nervous. Brent and Alice and I huddled between a tree and a garbage can for shelter and a bit of warmth. My brother stood in the center of a small clearing not far away and almost got hit by lightning.

Thankfully right about then the tram arrived, because I had just decided that we were all going to walk back to the parking lot, even if it was a million miles away (which of course it wasn't, but it would have seemed like it in that horrible weather, trust me).

One of the first things I noticed when I got on the tram was the fact that other people were all wearing rain ponchos and waterproof clothes. As opposed to us, who just had our cotton t-shirts, shorts, etc., and looked like a bunch of drowned cats. Then I saw a sign on the tram that said September was monsoon season in the Canyon and to be prepared for changeable weather. Information that could have come in just slightly useful for us before we embarked on our little adventure. Finally, we all got a big kick out of a sign that showed a stick figure deer stomping on a stick figure man's head, as an illustration of why we shouldn't feed the wildlife. I guess the wildlife is not particularly grateful in the Canyon.

Our adventure did end on a good note, however, as the storm stopped and we were able to see a huge rainbow before we finally left the Grand Canyon behind.

On the way home in the car, we had a heated discussion about whether or not ants could live in space. We also tried to get the Supercar to catch air off of some crazy hills right by Lake Havasu. I think we succeeded.

Ah, those were the days...

Monday, January 24, 2005

Better

Ah, feeling much better today. At least I was until I went downstairs and was serenaded once again by Leo's awful shrieking. How I manage to keep from strangling that bird is beyond me. It's nothing short of miraculous, in fact, which must mean *gasp* there IS a God! Wow. Strange that He would care about an annoying creature like Leo though.

Then again, He puts up with me. (Poor God. I feel sorry for Him sometimes. He's got a bit of a job on His hands where I'm concerned, but He hasn't given up yet! Thankfully.)

Recently I read a fantastic book called The Gifts of the Jews by Thomas Cahill. Since I don't really have anything else to write about today, I'm going to share a quote I liked:

For the God who calls Avraham [Abraham] to the Mountain Experience must no longer be seen merely as the "mountain god"...He is the God beyond the mountain, the unknowable God, whose purposes are hidden from human intelligence, who cannot be manipulated...

The God who called [Avraham] out into the wilderness and made impossible promises has begun to bring those promises to fulfillment. But this must not mean that, through this God, I can see the future and control what has not yet come to be. I control nothing. My task is to be as open to God as I am to my own child; to both I must say, "Here I am!"

"Be not afraid," counsels God to Avraham. Be not afraid of His presence in your life. But, paradoxically, be afraid of God's inexplicable omnipotence. For fear of this God, as the Psalmist will one day sing, "is the beginning of wisdom." And this unnamed mountain in the land of seeing is for Avraham the beginning of fear.


The "mountain experience" referred to in this quote is the call of God to Abraham to take his son Isaac up onto a mountain and sacrifice him there. It's one of the difficult, crazy, terrible, and wonderful stories in the Bible. Difficult because we don't understand how a loving God could ask a man to kill his son. Crazy because it seems, well, insane. Terrible because Abraham actually sets out to do it, and we think, how could he?? Wonderful because in the end God provides a substitute sacrifice. But still we cringe at the thought that God could demand something so extreme from a mere man.

But Cahill hits the nail on the head with his insightful remarks, and I hardly think I need to elaborate. I think the truth is there. God is not a genie to be manipulated. I never know WHAT He is up to, and sometimes that makes me more than a little nervous, I admit. Actually, it totally freaks me out. And yet somehow I am comforted in knowing that He is with me. Not that He promises that my life's journey will be easy and trouble-free, but that He walks with me in the troubled times. I can't make Him do what I want, but I know at some rock-bottom place in my soul that He loves me, and for that reason every sacrifice that He asks of me He will turn back into blessings that I couldn't have imagined beforehand. I hope someday I can truly get to that place where that understanding of His love is really all I care about. Then let the storm rage around me, but I will be at rest in the still point of a crazily turning world.

I had a thought the other day, that all of us think of ourselves as the center of our own universes, so it is no wonder that bad collisions happen when we are all concentrating on our own particular little orbits. Imagine if we all came into harmonious orbit around One Center of the universe--God. I think things would run a lot smoother, don't you?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.--Proverbs 3:5

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Sick and Tired

Sorry I haven't been writing much lately, folks. After my epic snowboarding adventure, I was out of commission for awhile. My predictions that I would be unable to move without difficulty were entirely accurate. Thursday and Friday were tough! Also I think I caught a bit of a cold up there on the mountain. Add to that my continued insomniac tendencies, and quite literally I've been sick and tired for most of the past few days.

The weekend was miserable. Saturday was a full, crazy day at work. Good to be kept busy, but it's hard to be on your feet helping people all day when you feel sick. Then on the way home, I had what I can only describe as a depressive episode--lots of crying for no reason, and that continued for most of the night. It really worried me. I wish I got more (and better) sleep; that probably has something to do with it. Had to take sleeping pills at least 3 times this week, and that's not something I particularly like doing, but it beats lying in bed awake for two hours or more staring at the ceiling.

Anyway, today I was so exhausted from the emotional chaos of last night, as well as the sleeping pill I took (again), that I woke up and could barely move. I staggered out of bed and managed to eat breakfast with the family. Then I went outside and lay on our front porch in the sun for awhile, before going back to bed again. I had hoped to go for a hike or something today, the weather was so beautiful, but I just never stopped feeling completely fatigued.

Hoping for better things (and lots more energy!!) tomorrow...

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

O Happy Day!

Amen, Hallelujah, and praise the Lord! Snowboarding today was AWESOME. It was worth every ache and pain that I will feel tomorrow...and oh, I will be feeling them tomorrow.

In fact, driving home, I could barely keep my hands on the steering wheel, because my arms were shaking. When I got home, I could barely walk because my legs were like jelly. I am either terribly out of shape or terribly old. Whatever the case, it doesn't matter, because I have a really, really fast board, and I TORE IT UP today. Oh yes, I did. Just call me Shredder, baby. I was bombing down those runs like a...like a bomber, I guess. Or a...um, I don't know, something that goes really fast. Hmmm. I went so fast, it seems some of my brain cells got left behind and are still trying to make their way home. At least, I hope that's what they're doing. I need every one that I can get!

I went to Mt Baldy, because it is only about an hour from my house. I have to admit, as I was driving up there, I was a little concerned about the fact that there was a noticeable dearth of actual snow. In fact, when I pulled up to the resort parking lot, I almost turned around and went back home. I could see bare earth and rock everywhere. But I'm glad I stuck to my guns. It was still a bit thin at the top, but there were two or three really fun runs, where you could just...go really fast. Being a weekday, hardly anyone was around. The sky was blue and there were no clouds. You couldn't ask for a more beautiful day...or a better way to spend it!

I went alone. When I told one of my co-workers on Tuesday that I was planning to do that, he looked at me funny, as though I'd said, "I'm going out to dinner by myself on Valentine's Day and then eating a whole tub of ice cream while watching Bridget Jones' Diary." Er, not that I'm saying there is anything wrong with that! Well, actually there might be something wrong with eating a whole tub of ice cream. That's not very healthy. But my POINT is, why do people think you are weird if you do fun things by yourself? Dang, if I waited around for my friends to be available to do stuff, I might never get to do anything! And anyway, who else would have been able to go snowboarding on a weekday? Not everyone is a bum like me, ha! Hey, when the opportunity comes along, you gotta grab it, alone or not. That's my philosophy, anyway.

So yeah, I don't know if I'm actually going to be able to move tomorrow. Which will be slightly awkward, because I have a nearly-full-day shift. I can't wait to pull computers and printers off the shelves for customers with my spaghetti arms. Yee-ha!

It was still oh-so-very worth it.

PS did I mention that I tore it up today? Because I did, you know. Just want to make sure you knew that. Because I don't like to brag, but I do like telling the truth, and this is the truth so I am telling it. Honesty compels me, what can I say?

The Time Has Come

I am going snowboarding today!

I am excited to hit the slopes for the first time this season. And on a weekday too...no crowds! Yee-ha.

Actually this will be the first time in over a year! Let's hope I remember how to do it. I'm sure it would make for a funnier blog later if I don't, but it won't be nearly as much fun while on the mountain!

Have a great day, and I'll write more when I get back. If I'm not too tired. Or sore. Or if I don't find something better to do.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Random Rambling

Happy MLK Day, everybody!

It feels like springtime in southern California, which is great. I am all about warm weather...except, of course, that I do like snowboarding. That's a bit of a paradox, isn't it. Well, I figure it's ok for it to be cold and snowy in the mountains. I think snow is pretty, so it's not that I hate it. I just like to know that I can come back to the warm, sunny valley when I'm done riding!

On a totally unrelated note, I would just like to say: Thank God for e-mail and MSN Messenger. Yesterday I chatted with a friend in Brazil, I keep in regular contact with friends in New Zealand, and right now I'm catching up with a buddy I met in New Zealand but he's from Minnesota...it's amazing! I love it. Of course, the downside is the fact that I can't see all these people in person.

It's kind of weird. I will have these moments where, for just a split-second, I think I'm back in New Zealand again. Recently, while walking down my street, I smelled woodsmoke, and suddenly I was strolling along Church Street in the tiny little town of Oxford on the south island. I almost expected to see the old field with cows on the next block.

Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever go back to the Land of the Long White Cloud. I hope so. I miss it sometimes. Today my dad was asking if I knew any good places in LA to just go and enjoy a nice view while people watching. I almost said, "Hey let's head over to Mission Bay," and then I remembered that Mission Bay is 6000 miles away, in Auckland. Sigh...too bad really. Mission Bay would have been perfect.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

To Kill or Not To Kill? That is the Question

Forgive me, God, for I have sinned: I have harbored murderous intentions in my heart.

It's my sister's bird, Leo the cockatiel. I HATE him. Early in the morning, while I am still trying to figure out if I'm actually awake, I walk through the breakfast room on my way to make some tea or "rustle up some grub" (eh, cowgirl?), and the bird begins this awful shrieking, and then I just want to KILL him. Yes, I do.

I yell at him to shut up, but he doesn't. Yesterday I nearly set the cat on him. I think he knew I was getting close to the end of my tether, because he subsided from his piercing whistle to a quiet, nervous little chirp. Also he could see the cat for himself, right outside the french doors, licking her lips, and he probably saw that I was looking longingly at the door handle.

In all truth, I should probably feel more sorry for Leo. He has no purpose in life. He just sits in that cage in the corner of one of the least used (but frequently passed through) rooms in the house. He is not friendly, so no one attempts to play with him, except the cowgirl. And even she doesn't do it all that much. Sometimes she sets him free from the cage to flutter around, but he generally sticks pretty close to his comfort zone (i.e., the cage). It's pathetic. If I were him, I'd probably be relieved to be murdered.

Maybe I could gag him. You know, run a little piece of cloth through his beak or something. Or invent a tiny bird muzzle. Or I wonder if you can "de-chirp" birds, the same way you can de-bark dogs.

Well, I guess there are potentially more annoying things in life than having to put up with noisy birds. For example, having a dog that has an addiction to playing fetch and will run backwards in front of you when you take him for a hike, because he is desperately hoping you will throw a stick for him.

Oh wait, that's what the cowgirl's dog does. Hmmm.

Friday, January 14, 2005

The World's Strongest Margarita...

...is at Pepe's in my town. I have just one word to say about it: WOW.

I went there last night with my parents and the cowgirl. We all ordered the Top Shelf Margarita. When it arrived, I thought I might just dive in and go for a swim. It was HUGE.

Well, this drink tasted way too good, and I probably gulped it down a little too quickly. WIthin minutes I was pretty sure I wouldn't be able to pass a straight line test. I am not much of a drinker as a rule, but nearly a week ago I had a margarita at Chevy's, about the same size as the Pepe's variety, but I was still able to carry on a normal conversation and look around the room without feeling like I was going to fall off my chair!!

It reminded of the time a few years back, when I had been on yet another snowboarding adventure with my boys, Mark and steveforpresident. After a long day on the slopes, we stopped to visit a friend in Tahoe City, and the four of us went to this little Mexican place, where our local friend ordered two PITCHERS of margaritas.

Well.

I never eat or drink much when I am riding, because I hate paying exorbitant ski-lodge prices for lame food, and I also don't like having to take bathroom breaks. I have the world's smallest bladder anyway, so if I drank anything I'd probably have to stop 10 trillion times during the day to pee. (Someday I will tell the story of another trip and the miracle Port-A-Potty! But that is definitely a whole 'nother tale...)

Anyway, the point being that by the time we were all having these drinks, I was dehydrated and also had a completely empty stomach. So I downed the first glass like it was water, because I was so thirsty. Then I started on a second one. Bad idea.

I figured out something was definitely not right when I leaned over to say something privately to Mark, and actually conked him in the head.

Thankfully I wasn't the one driving home that night.

Or last night either. The cowgirl did the honors. She holds her liquor way better than I do. That's because she's a cowgirl. I think that's one of the requirements.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Scene From A Movie: "Before The Sunrise"

A man and a woman are standing on a sidewalk on a dark street in Vienna, outside of a club. It is very late, after midnight. The two are strangers, having met while traveling, and now both of them are just killing time before they have to go their separate ways, which will happen in 14 hours. They have talked about nearly everything external to themselves during their explorations of the city--life, philosophy, whatever else strangers talk about when they are becoming friends. Now at last they are beginning to go deeper, to talk about something a little more...dangerous. They begin to talk about love.

The man says he doesn't think his problem is commitment. He says he is not afraid of that. No, what he is afraid of is failing. He wants to be really good at something, to do well in his life. He thinks that maybe, if he gets tangled up with another human being, somehow everything will be ruined. His life will be forever marked by his failure.

The girl is quiet as he speaks. She watches him with a Mona Lisa smile on her face, and when he finishes his speech, she gently says, "I know. It is almost impossible to succeed really...but who cares?" She looks away and adds, almost to herself, "The answer must lie in the attempt."

In the end, perhaps the only failure is...not trying.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Here Comes the Sun, La La La La

So after about three days of vicious rain, I had nearly forgotten what the sun looked like. On Saturday my mother and I had to slosh through our flooded backyard and try to clear some drains, because the water was starting to find its way into the house. The basement is constantly under at least three inches of water, and we've lost lots of books. I've also lost old photos as well. And while I was upset last night to go down there and find my photo album and another box of pictures floating around in the wet, I have to admit I was intrigued to see that a box of colored pencils had also fallen into the water, and since they were watercolor pencils too, the water around them was beautifully spotted with pretty colors. I don't know if the pencils will be any good or not once they've dried out, but at least they had that one shining moment of glory.

But anyway, the sun is out today and I'm happy because of it. I love the sun. I also love chili, which my mom made last night. It was delicious.

I'm not as happy about the fact that I have a writing deadline today at noon and I am procrastinating (as usual). The article is all written, except for a catchy paragraph at the beginning. I know you are supposed to try and "hook" readers into reading what you've written, but it's hard when your subject is a local drycleaning business. Writer's block looms. Sigh...

I'm also not happy that my blogs have not been very funny lately. I wonder if I've lost my sense of humor? I hope not. I don't think so though. If I had, I would have beat up my co-worker for calling me a Jesus freak the other day, but I didn't. I just threw my Bible at his head and laughed merrily as it knocked him out cold.

Oh wait, I didn't do that, either. Dang. That might have been kind of funny, actually.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

I Am Not The Center Of The Universe

The other day I was telling my mother a story about something that had made me angry. The point of the story was to highlight the surprisingly mature way I handled the situation...I was very proud of the fact that I had prayed over it, and waited until I was in a proper frame of mind, rather than simply losing my temper and doing or saying something utterly ridiculous, as I would normally be inclined to do.

Well, as I related my saga to my mother, making sure to dwell on how incredibly spiritual I had been (for once!), I noticed that she had a strange look on her face. Sort of like she wanted to laugh, but was afraid of offending me. Finally I said, "What, do you think I was being unreasonable to be upset about this thing in the first place?" She hesitated a moment, then with a tiny smile said, "Well, you do have a tendency to be a irrational and think that you are the center of the universe."

Thanks, Mom. And God, for keeping me humble--I guess!

Of course, my mom is right. I absolutely do have both of those tendencies, though I think I've recognized it and am making efforts to change. But it's never pleasant to be confronted with the flaws that others see in you--that is, to realize that you haven't really hidden those flaws half as well as you had thought.

You know, it's a good thing God is the patient type--especially since I am not. I get so frustrated at how incredibly slow I am at learning His lessons. I'm also glad that He knows how to love WAY better than I do. A friend sent me a quote one time when I was going through some rough stuff, and it did wonders for my soul, so I will share it with you:

We please [God] most not by frantically trying to make ourselves good, but by throwing ourselves into his arms with all our imperfections, and believing that he understands everything and loves us still. --A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy

It's not easy for me to believe that God really loves me like that, but I'm getting there. He has never given me any reason to doubt it, but trust doesn't come easy for me, I'm sorry to say. I have a feeling that most of us would say the same thing. But as I allow myself to trust more and more in His love, I find that transformation becomes just a little bit easier. I find that I want to change, to be a better person. I want to make God smile.

Well, here's looking forward to the day when Love finally turns the frogg into a princess--for real.

God is love. I John 4:8b

Saturday, January 08, 2005

No Sleep For Me

Ok, I would just like to draw your attention to the time of this post. See it, down there near the bottom of the text? Yes, it is 4.30 in the morning and I am awake. I have been awake since about 3.45. I think this time I know why I woke up so early. The heater was on pretty high when I went to bed, and I woke up absolutely roasting. Then I couldn't fall back asleep. Then I started to hear noises in the house. Then I smelled the terribly pungent smell of skunk. The smell got worse and worse, til I actually couldn't breathe. I remembered my dad saying last night that we have skunks living under the house. I am starting to wonder if they have found their way INTO the house. Maybe that's the noises I hear. My eyes are practically watering, the stench is so bad. I had to get up a few minutes ago and smear White Tea Scented Body Lotion all around my nose, so that now I can smell White Tea and skunk. Blech.

Sometimes when I wake up early in the morning like this and can't get back to sleep, I try to pray for friends and family and whoever else may come to mind. Tonight all I can pray is, "GOD PLEASE HELP ME SLEEP!!!!"

Oh yes, and also, "GET RID OF THE SKUNKS!" Or at least just make them stop smelling so bad.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Insomnia Jones

Confession time again:

Hi, my name is grackyfrogg and I am an insomniac.

Ok, well, I don't know if I am clinically an insomniac. All I know is that, no matter how late I go to bed, it will take me at least an hour, sometimes two or more, to fall asleep. Last night I fell asleep a bit easier, but then I woke up suddenly at 3am and couldn't fall asleep again for awhile. Why? Who knows?? It's a mystery.

It's been like this for the past year and a half. That's a lot of sleep to miss out on, let me tell you. And I dearly love sleep, as I've mentioned before, which makes my sad situation all the more difficult.

But on the plus side, with all that time lying awake staring at the ceiling, you have plenty to think about. For instance, last night I thought about the final scene in the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. (If you have not seen the movie, and don't want the ending spoiled, skip the rest of this paragraph.) You know, where the German Doctor Glamor-Girl gives the wrong grail to the Evil American Nazi Guy and he drinks from it, after which he experiences aging, death, and decay in a remarkably accelerated (and disgusting) manner. He figures out that something is wrong before he starts turning into a skeleton, so he grabs her around the throat as his death throes begin, and she is face to face with the horrible sight of his eyeballs falling back into his sockets, his tongue shriveling up, his skin turning to leather, then burned paper, then falling off his body, and his hands becoming nothing more than clattering bones around her neck, before he crumbles into dusty bits.

Specifically what I was thinking last night (actually early this morning) was this: If that happened to me--I mean if I were in the girl's place--I would never be the same. I'm sure I would spend the rest of my days wandering around in a snug-fitting white jacket with a vacant stare while I tried to say things like, "The clock in the sky turned purple on Monday." Or maybe, "Arhaguahagavbnh." Maybe I would just drool and laugh.

Do you ever think of things like that?

Thursday, January 06, 2005

The Birds of New Zealand

I was driving in New Zealand once, on the way back to the little town of Oxford, where I was staying. I had just been on a week-long tour of the top of the South Island, and was looking forward to returning "home." The drive was long and winding, through lovely fields, woods, and mountains, and I was enjoying myself when suddenly a bird flew in front of me and I hit it.

I couldn't believe it. I didn't think it was possible to hit a bird with a car--they always get out of the way here in the States, at least in California. They are very street savvy. Not so in New Zealand, where there are far less cars on the road.

Well, needless to say, hitting the bird put a major damper on my mood. The worst part about it was the fact that I had just been admiring the flight of a hawk over a field, and thinking how much I love to watch birds in flight. Then I hit one and probably killed it with my car. Talk about irony. Talk about depressing!

I actually saw dead birds fairly frequently on the roads in New Zealand. Another time I was driving with friends on the North Island. Jay was driving, and I was in the passenger seat, while Jay's wife Erin slept in the back seat. It was a gloomy gray day. Suddenly this big bird, some sort of heron-like creature, flies right in front of the car. KaTHUNK! Jay hit it. Hard.

We were both stunned. Erin didn't wake up. Jay and I looked at each other with wide eyes. "Whoa," one of us said. "Yeah," the other said.

Five very quiet minutes later, Jay whispered, "I think it's still stuck to the front of the car."

"What?" said Erin, popping up suddenly in the back seat. "What happened? Did you hit something?"

In spite of my horror at what we had done, I had to laugh. Erin's waking up was so unexpected. She was sad when we told her about the bird though.

Thankfully, when we stopped for gas, we did not find the bird still attached to the car. That would really have been too much. Strangely enough, however, I remember a girl in the first creative writing class I ever took, reading her essay about a trip she took to New Zealand, in which she (surprise) hits a bird, but doesn't find out til she stops somewhere and comes around to the front, and there it is, stuck by the beak right into the grille. Eeeew.

All this talk about New Zealand is making me miss it terribly. I don't miss killing birds, of course. But I miss very much the long, beautiful drives through some of the most amazing landscapes I have ever seen, or ever expect to. I miss Bethels Beach, and the little German cafe in Titirangi. I miss the drive from Kaikoura to Blenheim, along the South Island's east coast. I miss the gorge that I can't remember the name of, between Auckland and Tauranga. I miss the kiwi accent, which I could never quite imitate properly. I miss Thai chicken hot pies from the BP (weird, I know).

I've definitely left my heart in San Francisco in some ways--but I'll tell you what, New Zealand got a pretty big piece of it too.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

She Wants A Ticket To Ride!

The cowgirl leaves tomorrow for a snowboarding trip and I'm jealous. I haven't gone once this season! Well, that must soon be remedied. I got money for Christmas to put toward snowboarding, yay!!!

I remember one time going snowboarding with my friends Mark and steveforpresident. At the time, they were both much better than I was at the sport (actually, I'm sure they still are). I was still learning, and I had a crappy board too, which was about a mile too short for me. But I had been gradually improving that season, so on this trip (to Kirkwood, on the south side of Lake Tahoe), I was determined to try and keep up with them instead of just sending them off to enjoy themselves while I practiced falling a lot by myself, which is what I usually had to do.

Somehow they convinced me that I was good enough to tackle a black-diamond run. I wasn't entirely sure, but I was feeling kinda-sorta confident so I said ok. Standing in line for the lift, I noticed the name of the run, which was something comforting like "The Wall" or perhaps it was "Face of Death." I do remember very clearly a sign with a skull and crossbones. I began to feel nervous, but the boys assured me there was nothing to fear.

At the top of the lift, things got off to a bad start when I nearly ran steveforpresident off the side of a cliff. Well, it wasn't actually a cliff, but he reacted as if it were. (Men!) He didn't let me forget about it for the rest of the day. Anyway, after that, we all looked down at the run, which was completely covered in moguls. That may be fun for a skier, but for a snowboarder--at least a novice one like myself at the time--it's a bit less than desirable. I don't remember how I managed to negotiate my way down the face, but it took quite awhile and involved scooting along on my butt at least half of the time. Mark was very patient and waited for me at the bottom of the mogul section, then took off ahead of me down the rest of the run. I don't know where steveforpresident was. I think he was still miffed about his "brush with death", and had left us both behind.

Too bad he didn't stick around, he might have almost seen the payback. Mark was ahead of me and suddenly veered up the side of a hill, turning and waving at me to do the same. I did, just in time to avoid going over a cliff (a real one!) myself.

Ah, good times with the boys. I'm trying to remember if it was that same trip when we all went to a bar&grill for dinner and got accosted by a bunch of drunk women at a bachelorette party. Apparently they were on a scavenger hunt, and one of the things they had to get was a phone number of a Tom, Dick, and Harry. They asked Mark and steveforpresident if they were any of those. They said no. Then they asked me. That is, they asked a GIRL if she was a Tom, Dick, or Harry. (Please note that this is not a good way of making a woman feel good about herself, asking her if she is, in name at least, a man.) I stared at the girl who asked, but she was either too drunk or too carried away by the fun of the game to notice my look of stunned amazement. I said "no." She looked disappointed.

Anyway I hope to get up to the slopes sometime next week. I'm sure I'll have more fun snowboarding stories to tell when I do!

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Welcome to Frogg Files 2005

Well, the new year is here, and I want to say welcome to the 2005 edition of the frogg files! I hope you all had some good times over the holidays. I know I did.

And whatever you did for New Year's Eve, I don't know if it can compare to my own surreal experience, of travelling through three states by car (Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois), then hopping on a plane in Chicago, stopping in Vegas (which wins the frogg's award for most awkwardly laid-out airport EVER), and finally landing in Los Angeles at 8pm, where I discovered that my luggage had been lost. After putting in my claim, I was whisked away to a little New Year's get-together at the house of a friend of my brother's, where I didn't really know anyone but I didn't care because at least I wasn't being a hermit at home. The fun didn't stop there: after about an hour of sitting around and playing Catch-phrase, we all got restless and walked up the street a few blocks to a little bar/pub which was ringing in the New Year karaoke-style. Of course my brothers both got in on the act, singing "Oh What A Night" to the delight of oh-so-many drunk people, including this random woman who seemed totally enamored of the handsome young studs and took more pictures of them than I did, even though I am their sister and she doesn't know them from Adam. At least, not that I am aware of. Hmmm. In general, though, our group was louder and more obnoxious than anyone else in the bar, even though we were sober.

But the good times were all sort of tempered for me by the remembrance of the tragedy in Asia, which I still can't get my head around. It seems to unreal, so far away, so...impossible. As a Christian, I am troubled knowing that many people out there are asking the big "why" questions, and I can't answer them. I don't know why God lets these things happen. All I know is that when people asked Jesus about a tragedy that happened in their time, his answer was another question:, "If it happened to you, would you be ready? Are you prepared to stand in front of God?" I guess in the end that's the only question that really matters, because death is the one inevitable "given" in this crazy little thing called life (and taxes, of course).

You know, I would never pretend that God's ways make sense, because often they don't. At least not to me. I just know I love Him, and since when do you have to understand everything about someone to love them? He's shown Himself faithful to me in far more ways than I have shown myself faithful to Him. I know tragedies wait for me in my own life--there is no way around it; not if I live on this earth, not if I'm human. I'd be lying if I said this didn't scare me, but that's why I'd rather face those days with God at my side than without Him, because I know that He is "close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." (Psalm 34:18)

I saw a video clip in church today, which showed a guy saying unequivocally, "There is no question: there is no God." I can understand how people would feel like that, especially after the events of the past week. But it's a dangerously presumptive statement to make. Just as there is no way to prove the existence of God, there is surely no way to prove His non-existence. The question remains, and it's up to each one of us to seek for the answer.

So welcome to 2005, kids. My prayer: that God grant you the desires of your heart--even the unspoken ones. But above all, may you come to know Him if you haven't already, or know Him more if you have.

Seek and you shall find.--Matthew 7:7