Clearly, UNARGUABLY, Not My Fault


After not drinking the bad coffee in Atlanta, I boarded my 4 ish hour flight back to Tucson.

I had not shaved my left leg for more than a week; I had not showered that evening; I had not slept that evening; I was not wearing make-up; I was wearing workout pants that probably smelled like sweat, because I had not washed them for more than a week; I sat down, put my headphones on, willed that “Eff off” onto my forehead (you know, the one from Hitch that my friends claim I lack) and I LITERALLY prayed that God would seat me next to a frumpy, middle-aged woman who was too caught up reading The Fault in Our Stars to even think about talking to me.

Instead, the person who took the seat next to me was a 33-year-old aviator who was born in Jamaica, currently living in Milwaukee, but making his first trip to Tucson to try to figure out his impending move here for work. It was evidently going to be his job to fix our airport and help it grow an extra terminal.

He was nice and undaunted by the “Eff off” and Annie Lennox screaming through my headphones. He kept talking to me even though I kept trying not to talk to him. He also laughed at me and tried to explain that airplanes are super safe, because I sometimes grip the armrest violently when a plane I’m on makes one of those unexpected, roller coaster drops that gets my stomach.

Eventually, he asked me if I’d show him around Tucson that evening because he only had 24 hours to make up his mind. I sort of lied, telling him I was going to spend time with friends, which was true ish, because I did spend time with them, but had plenty of daylight left after getting lunch with Lauren and the kiddos.

Then, he asked for my phone number.

I told him that I wasn’t comfortable giving it out.

He said that he understood.

Like an hour later, just as we were landing, he asked if he’d be able to see me again.

I said no.

He looked sad, so I told him that I’ve recently been less careful than I ought to be.

He said he was sorry.

He waited a few minutes, then told me that he really just wanted friends, and I’d described my friends in a way that made him feel like he could connect with them. He was concerned about making the move to Tucson without knowing anyone… which could’ve been a creeper tactic, but I also felt for him.

So I gave him my email address.

He offered me a heartfelt thank you.

And it is not my fault!

NOT MY FAULT! NOT MY FAULT!

I don’t know why men are into me lately, but it’s not because of anything I’m doing, so don’t blame me. I could not have made myself less appealing or less approachable before that flight.

Airport Coffee


My grandmother and I pulled an all-nighter last night, watching American Ninja Warrior and Boundless. Neither is really my grandmother’s speed, but she put up with my need to watch people who are in awesome physical shape do impossible things. It’s always fun for me to discover what I’d watch if I had access to the channels. In addition to the hard-core athlete shows, I spent two hours trying to figure out if NASA has covered up information they have about alien structures on the Moon. :-)

Sidenote: RIP Anne and d’Artagnan. The ducks evidently died while I was away. :-(

So… I’m in the Atlanta airport, and it’s 5:46 a.m. Tucson time, and I haven’t slept at all. Thus, I bought myself a coffee. And it’s terrible. The question is, “To drink the bad coffee, or not to drink it?”

Top Ten Reasons I Reject Date #2


There’s been much speculation as to why I don’t go on a lot of second dates. Often, there’s psychoanalysis about my internal struggles and character flaws…  my fears. It’s glaringly obvious that I’m the one putting on the brakes, which makes it seem like I’m ultra-appealing and ultra-picky. However, I’d like to submit to the interwebs that the truth is most people who are doing online dating are weirdos or just a little too awkward.

Thus, I give you a list. Here’s my reasoning for rejecting date #2.

10. Talking about my online pictures -  Okay, so being complimented once is nice. “You have nice pictures.” :-) Being complimented twelve times is weird. “Are those your real pictures?” “I have to ask, is that really what you look like?” “Those are gorgeous pictures.” “You’re really pretty.” “Thank you for being pretty.” “You are as pretty as your pictures.”

9. Not getting enthusiastic or happy about anything – It’s really difficult to be happy, but the happiness is impossible to achieve when attached to a chronically unhappy person. Smiling is important. Genuine amusement is important. Passion for ANYTHING is important.

8. Living with mommy – I can’t avoid picturing him sitting on the couch, watching tv, drinking a beer while I do his laundry… not my cup o’ tea.

7. Not having a job – Enough said.

6.Touch – A guy who gets weird about a hug is a real turn-off. Side hug is fine, but it should be a confident one, rather than scared-shitless. Fear of hugging me usually suggests a fear of women in general and me in particular, which is disappointing and unattractive. I don’t have cooties and I will not get pregnant from a hug. It’s okay.

5. Fear of trying new things – A man who won’t go to a new restaurant or a new part of town probably isn’t for me. When a guy is like this, it makes me feel like I have to take care of him, which is not what I want on a first date. More than anything, I want to meet a guy who can take care of me. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t take care of him later in the relationship… I would hope he’d let me do that, but on the first date, I should feel like he’s in control of the situation. I should feel like he’s able to walk beside me, rather than behind me… using me as a shield from a danger that may or may not exist.

4. I think I have a 100% rejection rate on guys who ask me why I’m single. First of all, the way they ask is often with reverence, which is a bit too far. Tell me I look nice, but don’t act like I’m Helen of Troy… because I’m really not and it seems like forced flattery. Second, if I knew why I’m single, wouldn’t I do something about it and no longer be single?

3.  Phone – A man who checks his phone more than once or twice is a HUGE turnoff. Once or twice may even need some explanation, like, “My sister is pregnant, so I need to stay available if she goes into labor.” Checking a phone during a first date suggests that there are more important things to pay attention to than the person in front of you – not good to communicate to a prospective spouse.

2. Touch – I will absolutely reject a guy who touches too enthusiastically. If this is our first date and we don’t know each other, he gets a hug at the beginning and a hug at the end. There may be a few other acceptable touch barrier crossings, but they are few and far between.

1. Phone – It’s probably silly for this to be number 1, but it’s the one that happens most frequently. I have a dumb phone, and there’s nothing a guy can or should do about it until after we’re in a relationship. The first date is not the time to try to bring my technology up to date. Also, maybe there’s a reason I don’t yet have a SmartPhone, so maybe a guy should not try to change me before he even knows what I am and why.

The Tactile in Erin Morgenstern’s THE NIGHT CIRCUS and in My Life


It’s taken me three weeks to finish reading Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, but it was well-worth the time and work I put into it.

The Night Circus is the tale of Celia and Marco, star-crossed lover-magicians who understand how important it is to bring magic into people’s lives and to protect it from destruction.

Although I found the book difficult to follow at first, because the POV shifts between characters I couldn’t fully remember, it ended up being a delightful read. According to Tsukiko, “The finest of pleasures are the unexpected ones,” and that was most definitely the case with The Night Circus.

Although the story was a good one, I believe the supreme value of this particular tale lies in the sensations of which it reminded me. In a recent sermon, my pastor was speaking about the sort of people our new little church plant might be able to reach, and though he listed and described any number of characters, it stuck in my head when he addressed the way certain people care much more than others do about the way their senses are engaged during a church service. I’ve never thought much about it, but I probably am one of those people who wants to smell and taste and touch, because God is more than an abstraction to me. Although I think rather a lot, I don’t like thinking for the sake of thinking, so in a search for relevance in the Almighty, I sometimes need to see paintings, hear the music, taste the wine and the bread.

I might be criticized for thinking about the church this way, because it seems very Catholic and incense-y. However, I believe God approves of at least some of this particular craving of the senses. After all, He instituted that beautiful dinner of his body, broken for us and his blood poured out for us. He called “Bezalel the son of Uri… filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver and bronze, cutting stones for setting and in carving wood, to work in every craft,” (Exodus 31:2-5). He set men out to build a beautiful temple in His name.

I confess, one of the draws of my current church is how we settle into the music. It isn’t a show that I’m supposed to observe; it is my life, and I’m meant to sing and participate. Also, the building we’re in is gorgeous and engaging. It has enormous windows that let the desert in and help me to feel that I’m a part of something bigger than a 60-minute service or one room with the same people in it each week. Just outside the windows, there is a towering cross that’s a sight to behold.

I know it seems like I’m off-topic right now, but The Night Circus is an imagery-dense book. It is black and white with splotches of red. It is fancy dresses and bowler hats, sitting down to Midnight dinners of brandy-soaked cherries and other unidentifiable pleasures. It is mysterious clocks that tick away hours of revelry and wandering; it is ice gardens and wishing trees, bonfires and hand-written notebooks. It is what I experience when I sit with my closest friends, sipping wine or the perfect latte and talking about our most secret dreams. It is a book of childish wonder, which every life should probably be reminded of and saturated in every-so-often.

I leave you with a few of my favorite passages:

Why haven’t you asked me how I do my tricks?

Because I do not wish to know… I prefer to remain unenlightened, to better appreciate the dark.

 

The past stays on you the way powdered sugar stays on your fingers. Some people can get rid of it but it’s still there, the events and things that pushed you to where you are now.

 

The silence that falls between them is a comfortable one. He longs to reach over and touch her, but he resists, fearful of destroying the delicate camaraderie they are building.

Stop behaving as though you love that boy… You are above such mundane things. 

It bothers him most at times like this, in the bottom of the brandy bottle and the quiet of the night.

 

I mean only that I hope they find darkness or paradise without fear of it, if they can.

 

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being a dreamer… There is not. But dreams have ways of turning into nightmares.

 

Wine is bottled poetry.

The Small Town, Slower Life


Coming to North Carolina so often reminds me that I’m much closer to being a city girl than I am to being a small town girl.

My parents and grandmother live in Burnsville, NC, which only got a Starbucks a year or so ago – not its own freestanding structure, mind you – inside a grocery store. There’s one other coffee shop in town, which is my favorite in the whole world except that it closes at 5:30 and I’m on Tucson time, which means it really closes at (what, in my mind is) 2:30.

I don’t really think of myself as being in a hurry, but when I’m here, it always seems I am. When I’m at home, I spend hours each day, reading and writing. I go for walks. I listen to “Bridge Over Troubled Water” again and again and again, in every incarnation in which it exists. However, I read and write while people bustle about near me. I often stroll like I’m being chased. I type like the words will be deleted if I don’t get them down fast enough. While that’s all very relaxing to me, and I feel like I’m stopping to smell the roses, my grandmother seems stressed by my pace just walking out to the car. Day one saw me saying things like, “Let’s go,” and “You’re killing me, Smalls,” to both my mother and grandmother.

I’ve vowed to try to do better, but it’ll probably take me all week to slow down enough for her, but then I’ll be headed home and need to speed up again.

Things are just slower here. I should accept it. Time stands still. People try to tell me of the most recent gossip, and it’s generally the same gossip they told me last time I was here. So-and-so had an affair. That other person dug a well… and I hate gossip anyways.

As a kid, I used to think I’d move here, build a house, and have a family of small-town kiddos. Nowadays, when moving here could actually be a thing, I can’t think of many places I’d more hate moving. I might be able to make it in Asheville. It’s got some character. Still, I may not be cut out for this part of the country.

Talking is a big thing here. I know it’s strange, but I don’t actually like talking very much – especially to lots of people at once or to people I’m not living life with. If there’s something to talk about, I’m fine, but I don’t understand the constant talk about the weather or what’s for supper or the growth of the lawn. I know I’m neglecting the point by saying this, but I think seasons change and the weather is uninteresting. Monsoons are cool, but that’s mostly because they are so violent and few. Food doesn’t interest me too much unless we’re headed out somewhere new. I think cooking is fun, but I don’t understand talking about it while not doing it. While sitting on the porch. To me, lawns grow and people shouldn’t have them if the mowing is such a thing.

If I’m to sit on the porch, I want to not talk. I want to read or stare or listen to music. I cognitively understand that talking is a bonding thing, but I don’t feel any more bonded to a person after talking about the lawn than I feel after sitting with him or her in complete silence.

Also, I hate that people here can be so deterred by weather. It’s rainy today… which makes everyone act like going out would be crazy. They just want to curl up and sleep, which is fine every now and then, but I can’t see doing it every time it rains, and I can’t see not going out when I had planned to go out, just because it’s a little wet out.

Neither rain, nor sleet, nor dark of night…

Okay, so I may not be that intrepid, but I truly don’t own an umbrella, remember. ;-)

Demons v. the Better Angels a.k.a. Dismissal v. Jesus Christ


Sometimes I want to be normal.

I don’t mean that I think I’m a weirdo or anything like that; I mean it in the sense of what’s usual/common/generally accepted…

Lately, I’ve wanted to be more like my group of friends. They all seem normal to me and I feel… not that. Sometimes in a bad way.

I talked with that boy for a bit.

The thing is, most of my friends, I think, wanted me to stop giving him the benefit of the doubt. Partly, they wanted that for me. They wanted me to be able to move on, and being mad at him for his unreliability and seeming fakeness is one way to dismiss him, making the moving on a lot easier.

I often think it would be normal to dismiss him.

But I also often think that’s not the kind of normal I want to be.

Partly, most of them want me to dismiss him for themselves. He’s hurt them and they want move one from him just as I do. But I think some of them haven’t truly felt for him. Some admit they haven’t empathized, and most of them would probably say that he doesn’t let them in enough for them to know how to feel for him…

but I feel for him.

A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry is one of the stories I’ve taught every year since I started teaching. I’m a little sad because I will likely not get to teach it next year, and it has a truly beautiful passage about what it is to be friend and sister to a broken man.

Beaneatha’s entire life has been turned upside down because her brother, Walter Lee, did something incredibly foolish and selfish with family money. It impacted her future and the entire family’s future, and yet, their mother is urging Beneatha to love him even though he’s really screwed all of them.

“Beneatha: Love him? There is nothing left to love.

Mama: There is always something left to love. And if you ain’t learned that, you ain’t learned nothing. (Looking at her) Have you cried for that boy today? I don’t mean for yourself and for the family ’cause we lost the money. I mean for him: what he been through and what it done to him. Child, when do you think is the time to love somebody the most? When they done good and made things easy for everybody? Well then, you ain’t through learning – because that ain’t the time at all. It’s when he’s at his lowest and can’t believe in hisself ’cause the world done whipped him so! When you starts measuring somebody, measure him right, child, measure him right. Make sure you done taken into account what hills and valleys he come through before he got to wherever he is.”

I always spend extra time on this passage when I teach the play because it’s one of those rare pieces of times when I can teach the gospel in a public classroom without proselytizing or getting myself into trouble.

I think a lot of my friends are still mad at the boy because he destroyed something they loved. I was almost ready to jump on-board with them because when he’s not talking, he seems to have done it rather carelessly.

And because I loved it too.

The thing is, I think those of us who were there the longest, gave it the most of ourselves, and therefore had the greatest stake in its destiny… are less angry than those who poured very little of themselves into it. We’re slower to dismiss him even though he wounded us considerably more.

After talking with him, and being reminded of his side, I’m forced to ask myself how I can ever be eager to dismiss someone I’ve known for so long, who gave up so much, while I’m hesitant to assume the worst about the fool in Starbucks?

I certainly don’t know how a friendship can even work with him, and I’m not naive enough to believe it necessarily will work, but I believe God would have me try. And I believe God would have us all love him, though he’s unlovable lately. Though he’s not loved us lately, and admits to despising us a bit.

I recently told him that I believe he often lets his demons shout down his better angels… and I’m guilty of the same. My demons tell me that he has screwed me so many times. That he hasn’t loved me well. That he unfairly thinks ill of me. That he deserves dismissal.

But my better angels tell me that I ought to cry for him today… not just for myself or the family. But for him. They say that the world has whipped him, so and that he’s been through some valleys recently. And I hope that there will be people who can love me through my own valleys, though I be unlovable and self-involved – perhaps about all of the romance that’s consuming me of late.

 

 

Life Without an Umbrella


* Note to Dave: You may not want to read this one. ;-)

I don’t know what the hell is going on in my life. The floodgate of men has been open/the Kraken was released, and the men just keep on coming.

So… there was one guy who I was pretty seriously considering, but then the visit led me to believe that he’s got some growing in independence before he’ll be ready for a lady like me. Also, the umbrella thing was funny, and I now intend to use it as a life metaphor.

Me: I shouldn’t have done my hair. It looks like it’s going to rain.

Boy: Are you going to bring an umbrella?

Me: I don’t own an umbrella.

Boy: Do you want me to get mine out of my car.

Me: If you want to…

Boy: …

So, the not having an umbrella is partly that I like getting rained on sometimes and partly that umbrellas seem impractical to me in monsoons. The water comes sideways, which makes the umbrella useless.

The umbrella thing happened, I told the boy we weren’t destined for love, and he went home.

___________________________

Then, I went to Starbucks and all Hell broke loose.

I think there must be an astrological shift that sending men my way because I swear nothing like this happened to me prior to this summer.

I get my table and my drink. I face myself away from everyone and towards the window and the storm outside.

Man approaches and asks me to watch his drum while he goes to the bathroom.

He comes back, takes his drum and sits down. I read.

I stand up to see if SBucks has any free songs I can download, and man asks me what I’m reading.

“Basic Christianity by John Stott.”

“Are you new to Christianity?” he asks.

“No. Just trying to return to the basics.”

“I’m Christopher.”

“Katie”

We talk for a bit.

He comes over to my table.

He proceeds to touch my hands.

Then my knee.

Then my hair.

Now, okay. I should be more prepared after Scott got all handsy to yell STRANGER DANGER! and get out of there, but I cannot explain to you the sense of panic that occurs when a man I don’t know enters my dance space (Think Patrick Swayze). I cannot think. I want him to go away, but it doesn’t seem in my realm of control/power to get him to go away.

Then, he’s evidently feeling that my not yelling at him for touching me means that I want him, so he says, “I’m going to kiss you.” He puts his hand on my neck and my gut reaction kicks in and I’m like, “NO!” and I hit his hand away.

He doesn’t take it that well. He doesn’t understand why I don’t trust him. He thinks we should go dancing.

“No.”

“Why not? You need to learn to let your shields down.”

Red Alert!!!! Shields up!

“Because I don’t know you.”

“What would we have to do for you to feel like you know me?”

“I’d have to see you in multiple contexts.”

“Like what?”

“Like interacting with people other than me.”

“Like who?”

“Your friends… My friends… anyone but me.”

“Ok. When can I hang out with your friends?”

“Monday night two weeks from today.”

“Why so far into the future?”

“I’m going out of town.” And I hope you will get distracted and forget to show up.

Then I gave him the address of some of my friends. – Yeah I should’ve given him a false address. But who knew I actually needed an umbrella because there are men falling from the sky? I haven’t even lost any weight or beautified myself recently. I just bought the biggest pair of jeans I’ve worn in like 5 years.

What the Hell?