Monday, December 21, 2009

You know you're back in the South when..

You try to explain to your parents what a csa is and your first google search brings up this.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

No place like home?

Some food for thought as I embark on my first trip back home in three months.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Song of the Day: Over the Rhine, "Snowed in With You"

It's 55 degrees in Seattle today-- but back home it is totally snowing!! Here's to hoping the snow will stop by the time my plane lands on Monday morning but that it won't melt off until after I get a chance to sled with the little bros...

Monday, December 14, 2009

It's the most wonderful time of the year...

I'm almost done mailing out my annual(ish) Christmas CD!

A quick disclaimer: If you don't get a CD from me this year it is not because I don't love you. It is probably because...

A. Lots of you are in college or grad school and because I waited so dang long to mail these things, you won't be at the address I have for you in time to get it before Christmas (this a lame excuse, I know.. but I'm using it anyway so deal with it)

B. I'm going to SEE you in a few days (!!!!!!!) and figure I'll save a stamp and give it to you in person then.

C. I asked you for your address and you never sent it to me.

D. You're a scrooge and I know you don't like Christmas music anyway.

If you don't fit into one of those categories, I'm truly sorry. I have failed as a friend and you can cut me out of your life forever if you want. Or you could just go ahead and listen to the Christmas mix here (I'd say that's a better option...)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Wait, seriously!?

I think this would be funnier if these people weren't legit.

Still, I may or may not have just peed myself a little.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Song of the Day: Vince Guaraldi Trio, "Christmastime is Here"

What do you do when you're having a Charlie Brown kind of weekend?

Why, buy the scrawniest Christmas tree in the lot, and make it beautiful, of course.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

And boom goes the dynamite.

So Thankgsiving was rough for me this year. My homesickness combined with the sheer amount of butter I consumed knocked me out for the count, and I've spent the past two days in recovery mode.

BUT, speaking of butter, things could always go worse: at least I didn't get hit in the face with a ham.

Oh Paula Deen, bless your sweet heart.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I'm thankful...

For a warm apartment in a cold city.
For moments of joy on gloomy grey days.
For the chance to get by all on my own.
And the grace to know that if I can't, I'm still loved.

For work that I love with people who make me laugh.
For a family in good health, even if miles away.
For video chats with a room full of familiar faces.
For morning phone calls with friends on their lunch breaks.
For east coast night shift sleep schedules.

For rainboots.
For gore-tex.
For thrift stores.
For crock pots.
For bookstores.
For lattes.
For officially being able to listen to Christmas music.

For snowglobes.
For peppermint.
For twinkle lights.
And casseroles that remind me of home.

For the start of the advent season.
For the abundant love of Christ.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Song of the Day: Sufjan Stevens, "Put the Lights on the Tree"

Every year, I take a rather staunch stance on Christmas music. Though it's impossible to shield myself from the barrage of jingly cheer that flies in my face (and ears) every time I visit any sort of shopping center, I do my best to resist listening to any of my holiday favorites until the weekend after Thanksgiving. "Christmas Abstinence," I call it. It's just better when you wait.

This year, though, as much as I hate to admit it... I've been a bit of a Christmas whore. I haven't gone all the way yet... no Christmas movies, no decorations.. but I've had more than a few flings with some choice carols. Christmas is feeling me up, and I'm not stopping him.

One of my absolute holiday favorites is Sufjan Stevens. After three years of buying one song at a time for my Christmas mix (soon to be mailed, if you're one of the lucky few!), I finally bit the bullet and bought his 3 disc collection "Songs for Christmas" (buy it immediately-- you will not regret it). Unfortunately, I forgot to change the mailing address on my amazon account. So instead of showing up here, it arrived at my parents' house this weekend. Accident? Maybe. But I think someone up there doesn't want me to lose my Christmas virginity just yet.

But, c'mon! With songs like this one ringing in the advent season, who can blame me for trying?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Dear Carol Hannah...

I'm sorry you lost to Meana Irina.

Yes, her collection was more cohesive and she probably deserved the win.

But if I owned this dress. I would NEVER take it off.

Also, Irina was rude. And you are not. Actually, you're pretty awesome.

So, when Logan brings you back to Seattle to introduce you to his family before he proposes, let's do lunch. K?

Your biggest fan

Sunday, November 15, 2009

What the duck??

Confession: I spent the majority of my day surfing the internet. Chalk it up to nasty Seattle weather sucking away all the energy I've got left after the week, or blame it on my roommate for moving to Dubai for four months, leaving me with an apartment to myself and no accountability for getting out of bed before 3pm on the weekend. Fact is, nothing really excuses this level of laziness, and I'll be the the first to admit that I'm ashamed of the hours I've lost mindlessly wandering the life-sucking depths of cyberspace.

BUT, before I turn off my computer and resurface in the real world, I must tell you about a blog I stumbled upon today:

Their banner reads:

"You know that face you make when you are about to take the perfect shot of yourself for myspace?? You know, the one where you push your mouth out in that weird combination of put and kissy face to make it look like you've got big, pouty lips and model quality cheekbones."

Oh, you mean this face??

Apparently this face has a name. And these guys don't think it's sexy or cool at all.

I'll admit, the photos on the website DO look pretty stupid. But for me, the duckface is kinda like blue steel. My trusty go-to pose that will turn any photo-op into a model moment.

Need proof?? Please parouse the following portfolio of my best duckface moments and see for yourselves how how sexy and versatile this look is...

The duckface spans the generations.

the seasons

and the nations.

It comes in all shapes and sizes

and attracts all sorts of men

and cuddly creatures.

The duckface dances

and swashbuckles

and contemplates

The duckface is always up for a good time.

My conclusion: the folks over at can just go duck themselves. Because if the duckface is wrong, I don't want to be right.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

It's back!

I've got the road trip bug again.

California: Summer 2010.

Any takers??

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Song of the Day: Kanye West, "The New Workout Plan"

Parental (and grandparental) advisory warning. This song is filthy. But also great to do sit-ups to. Listen at your own risk.

So in an effort to not get fat and crabby this winter, I got myself a gym membership.

In typical west coast fashion, my gym is called "Om." and its motto is "tone your body, calm your mind." Very zen.

The truth is, I had ulterior motives. For one, attractive men usually hang out at gyms. Of course, since I have overactive sweat glands and generally soak through any and all clothing I wear for workouts, I'm not planning to actually talk to any of these specimens (also, cute boys make me sweat even more than workouts do... so there you have it), but, as someone who works in a field completely dominated by women and gay men, it's nice to breathe in a little testosterone every once in a while..

Also, the gym has really nice, warm showers. And since my apartment is a renovated attic and I can't stand in my leaky, cold drip of a shower without touching my head to the ceiling, the promise of a warm shower after working out was pretty enticing.

But lo and behold, despite my entirely superficial reasons for joining, I'm actually kinda enjoying working out (wha!!?). The gym has great equipment and pretty fun classes, and apparently workout-induced endorphins are pretty addictive-- who knew?

And get this-- this morning, determined to not let the time change get the best of me I went to spinning and yoga. At 6am.

Let me repeat that. I, who spent my summer not working and sleeping until noon, took a workout class at 6am. Which means I had to wake up at 5:15 to get ready and out the door on time.

You know the crazy thing? I'm still awake. And I feel amazing. Refreshed. And kinda Sexy.

Who knows, next time you run into me, my mom-butt may look more like buns of steel.

But then again, that may just be the new pair of Spanx I bought at Nordstrom Rack this weekend...

Monday, November 2, 2009

If I had 500 dollars right now...

I would buy these.

My apologies to the third world, at large. Please ignore the fact that 500 dollars could probably build a new well in your village or provide immunizations and life-saving medications for your children. Or that the material for these boots probably came from the hide of an animal whose meat could have fed your family for a month.

I am a terrible, vain, selfish American and right now all I can think about is exiting a room with exquisite leather bows gracing the backs of my calves.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

Can I just brag on my best friend for a second here?

Her due date is just days away and STILL she manages to put together the funniest halloween costume around.

This woman is a creative genius. And a pretty sexy looking trucker, if I do say so myself.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Song of the Day: Third Day, "When the Rain Comes"

So this is it, I guess. The rainy season has begun. I, like most normal people, don't very much like rain for days and days on end. But, being that the rain here is going to come down whether I like it or not, I've decided to at least try and make a paradigm shift here. Instead of letting the wet dreariness of the oncoming season get to me, I am going to learn to love life in the rain.

First step. Buy Rain boots. Check. (Ok, not really.. these would cost me approximately 20% of my monthly income. But look at them. SOOOO pretty. I want. I neeeed....)

Second step. Google crock pot recipes. Check.

Third step. Find a boyfriend to cuddle with for the next 6 months.


I have a cosy quilt, a great teapot, and lots of good books that I've been meaning to read.

Close enough. Ok Seattle, I'm ready. Bring on the yuck.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Song of the Day: Ingrid Michaelson, "Are We There Yet?"

I think you all know how much I love Ingrid Michaelson. If you don't. I'll tell you right now. I love her. A lot. She has an irresistibly sweet voice, which flutters like a dove across the darlingist tunes in indie music. And her lyrics are poetry. Wistful, melancholic poetry sprinkled like sour sugar over gummy candy melodies. Her music just hits this string in my angsty, wistful, hopelessly romantic heart. I listen to her little voice and her little ukelele and I want to dance and cry and laugh and sigh all at once. She was in Seattle on Monday and, being the penniless newcomer that I am right now, I waited to buy my tickets until I had sufficient monies and friends to invite along. In the meantime, the show sold out.*

Anyway... there is a point to this sad story. Over the course of my first few weeks here, God has given me countless bits of confirmation that this is where he's called me. That this city, this apartment, this internship-- all of these are exactly where I'm supposed to be. One of those affirmations came this morning, when the pastor at the church I've been visiting preached a message on Acts 20-- Paul's tearful goodbye to the Ephesian elders, the friends he lived amongst for three years, dear friends he knows he will never see again.

But just in case a whole sermon on the idea of moving just because God's called you somewhere else wasn't enough of a cosmic nod in my direction. God threw a little icing on the cake for me. The 50 year old (I note age here because my father is 50 and pretty much just listens to James Taylor and Toby Keith) pastor began the message with a quote from an Ingrid Michaelson song (and blogged about it, I might add).

A nudge and a wink. Oh you're funny, Lord.

Did I also mention that this weekend was homecoming back at the alma mater? And that, though I certainly hope that I will at least see the faces of my best friends again soon, I'm beginning to come to terms with the knowledge that the relationships I had in college are different now. Stronger, I really think. But much more difficult.

It is hard for me to read the end of Acts 20 without crying. I read 21:1 and the words "after we had torn ourselves away from them" hit me square in the chest. Every time I hang up the phone these days, I'm on the verge of tears. And yet I know--without any doubts--that I am supposed to be in this place. That there is work to do here. Relationships to build. People to love and care for.

One final anecdote and I'll make my point: on Friday, I mentioned to my supervisor that I was really enjoying the people I had met at my church, that the women in my bible study seemed very genuine and deep and that I was looking forward to new friendships outside the theatre. He responded that that was something he envied about people of faith. That they could move anywhere and find a niche within weeks. I've been thinking about this some. And about today's message on the role of the Christian as a sojourner, constantly moving, changing, adapting.

Though I see the seeds of a life here, I can't help but feel a little bit like a carpetbagger.

As always, Ingrid asks what's on my road-weary heart:

They say that home is where the heart is
I guess I haven't found my home
And we keep driving round in circles
Afraid to call this place our own

They say there's linings made of silver
Folded inside each raining cloud
Well, we need someone to deliver
Our silver lining now

And are we there yet?
Home, home, home

And, in Ephesians 2, Paul answers:

For he himself is our peace... Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundations of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his spirit.

*I am almost as devastated by this as I am by the fact that I passed up on Ben Folds tickets with the rationale that though he's one of my favorites, I've seen him twice before and can't really spare 30 dollars right now. Then I found out that he's playing tuesday's (now sold out) show with The Seattle Symphony. (Whyyyyyy, LORD, why!?)

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Song of the Day: Loverboy, "Working for the Weekend"

Second day of work is today and I am NOT used to this 9-5 deal anymore. But starting out the morning with some classic 80's air guitar does help...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Yeah, I'm young and urban..

Seattle and Washington, DC just tied for first place on Wall Street Journal's list of hot youth-magnet cities.

Does the fact that I just transplanted from DC to Seattle make me extra hip?? I tend to think so.

Song of the Day: Owl City, "Hello Seattle"

I'll ignore the fact that the song of the day fails to punctuate correctly. It's a good song and a good fit for my life right now, so it merits a post. But a note to Adam Young, the handsome face behind Owl City: next time you address a second party in the title of a song, use a comma. Thanks to you and those grammar ruffians Peter (no comma!?) Bjorn (another guy--not Peter's last name!) and John-- hipsters everywhere are bound to be terribly uninformed about comma rules.

Moving on...

I've now been in my apartment in Seattle for one full week.

Some things I've learned so far about The Emerald City:

1. The weather is not as bad as everyone says.

Though I hear It's bound to get grey any day now, I've seen the sun pretty much every day this week. The one day it did rain, my roommate asked me if I'd heard the thunder. There had been approximately one clap. I've been told that rain here doesn't come in dumps but is a constant drizzle for six months. Downpours like we're used to in the southeast make headlines.

2. The restaurant business here is serious stuff.

For me, this means two things: a. I need to get a part time job to afford to eat like the foodie that I am. and b. I can't get a part time job because I don't have 20+ years of waitressing experience.

3. The coffee business is also serious stuff.

I get looks of disdain whenever I go into a coffee shop and just order a small "drip" coffee. Which, fyi, is the Seattle way to order a regular coffee and is also the only cup of coffee I can afford right now. If you REALLY want disdain, just ask for a small coffee and they'll look at you, raise their eyebrows, and repeat your order back as "small drip?" (Subtext: "Where are you from that you don't know that drip is the word we use for the inferior coffee that cheap, sad out-of-towners like you drink). It didn't take me long to learn how baristas roll in this city. It also didn't take me long to realize that there's another part time job that I'm unqualified for.

4. Driving in this city is damn near impossible. Even with a GPS.

As it is, I'm not a fantastic driver. With an insurance record that includes not one, not two, but THREE run-ins with parked cars, I'm doing my best to keep my carelessness in check here. But this city is no help. Yesterday, it took me approximately 45 minutes to get to a lake that is only 3 miles away. With incredibly poor signage, turnabouts in place of stop signs, turn only lanes that come out of nowhere (and always in rush hour traffic), and highway on-ramps that seem like innocuous streets until you realize you can't turn around for another 2 miles(!!), the roads here are befuddling. I'm sure I'll figure out the lay of the land soon enough, but for now I've gotten quite used to the sound of the Garmin chiming "recalculating."

5. Cute/Geeky/Artsy/Mountainy Men abound here.

My mom and I went down to Pike Place Market before she left on Friday and I could barely believe my eyes. Cute. Boys. Everywhere. I asked my roommate about the phenomenon and she told me that the biggest industries here are dot coms and software companies (Amazon, Google, Microsoft) and jet engineering (Boeing), all of which are male-dominated industries. Of course, I went to an opening night in my industry last night and every good looking man I saw had another good looking man on his arm.. so I doubt too much will change in my love life. But after four years at a college where the male female ratio was 40/60, it's always fun to look ;)

As for my transition, I'm settling in nicely. I start my internship on Tuesday and couldn't be more excited to get back to work. The staff I've met so far at the Theatre seem leaps and bounds better than the nightmarish management I was up against last year and it seems like there are going to be a lot of exciting things that I'll get to do and learn in the arena of theatre education this year! I am, of course, terrified about the prospect of paying bills and supporting myself financially on an intern's wages, but I continue to hope in the promise that God will open the right doors and provide for me despite my fears. Thank you all so much for your prayers, comments, and phone calls! More than anything else right now, I'm missing the nearness of friends and family, but you all have been wonderful support even from miles and miles away. Know that I appreciate it and can't wait to keep you posted on my new adventures as they come.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Check out the view

It's mom's last day with me, so we're off to hit the tourist hot spots.

But I thought I'd brag real quick on the view from my bedroom window..

Note the sunshine streaming in. That's right, it's still sunny in Seattle!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Blame it on the Tetons

You didn't really think I was just going to post once today, did you?

Jigga, please. I haven't had internet access for three days. My bones were starting to shake.

So let's backtrack for a second here. I'll do my best to keep the pictures of roads and mountains to a minimum. (False.)

Two posts ago, Mom and I were about 20 minutes outside of Boulder, Colorado. We spent a day hiking around the famous flatirons and bickering about stupid things like whether or not we should sit inside or outside at dinner.

On Sunday, the arguments shifted to snippy commentary on each other's driving skills (and me bitching about the fact that mom drinks too much coffee and therefore has to stop and pee EVERY 20 minutes) as we struck out on a 9 hour drive to Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

But all cat-fighting subsided as soon as we started taking in the scenery.

There were "scattered thunderstorms" along the way, but the sky in these parts is so big, that you could see the rainclouds on one side of the road and beautiful rays of sun streaming in on the other.

Neither pictures nor words can capture the beauty of this part of America (only John Ford even comes close). You just have to go there. Make this drive. Your soul will thank you.

Around 5pm we hit the Tetons, by way of Grand Teton National Park. We arrived in those perfect hours of late afternoon, when the sunlight is soft and warm, and everything you see seems to beam in its glow. Again, pictures just don't do the trick, but that didn't stop us from snapping one at every overlook we came to.

We stayed the night in Jackson Hole, a lovely though tourist-ridden town just south of the park. Several westerns have been filmed here including my personal favorite--Shane, lauded for its sweeping cinematographic views of the Grand Teton Mountains and their surrounding valleys.We ate elk and salmon and huckleberry cobbler at the historic Wort Hotel, and I resisted the urge to snap pictures of my food in such a fancy restaurant (see, I can be classy when I try to be). I did, however, give in to my tourist urges and make Mom take a picture of me with a stuffed bison.

The next morning, we got up bright and early and drove back into Grand Teton NP, where we ate a huge breakfast at The Jackson Lake Lodge and enjoyed this view right outside our window.

Unfortunately, this was the point at which I tried to adjust the exposure on my crappy camera to account for the fact that we were taking a picture in front of a window and then promptly forgot to change it back to normal. Therefore, just about every picture I took in Yellowstone (where we headed next)turned out over-exposed. Awesome.

I'll post about Yellowstone soon, but for now, here's a long overdue song of the day: Modest Mouse, "Blame it on the Tetons."

We made it!!

My oh my, where to even begin..

Well, after thirteen hours on the road yesterday, we finally made it to Gig Harbor, Washington, a nice little suburb about an hour south of Seattle.

And would you believe it, there isn't a cloud in the sky today!

Since we got in after dark last night, I hadn't yet caught a glimpse of the Puget Sound. So when I woke up this morning in the sunroom of our family friends' bayside house, I was thrilled to open my eyes to this view.

I've already been told that the door here is always open, and I'm looking forward to making a return visit when I need some respite from the big city.

We'll explore around here a little today and stay one more night before I move into my apartment tomorrow!

Though the physical journey is just about over, the spiritual voyage seems to have just begun. After 13 days on the road, I am pooped! But unlike every long trip I've taken before, the end doesn't mean coming home. It means unpacking my life in a city I've still never laid eyes on before. This is a concept I'm still getting used to. I can't wait to make new friends and start my internship, but I'm also still wrapping my head around the fact that all the family and friends I've ever had are now a 5 hour flight away.

Still, as I've said so many times before, I take confidence in the fact that I am right in the center of God's plan for me. Already, so many things have fallen into place, and I have no doubts that I will continue to be surprised by the way things work out. Thank you all for your prayers and words along the way, I'll continue to keep you posted as the journey continues.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Rocky Mountain Highway

When we first arrived in Colorado on Thursday night, the sun was shining in our eyes and a significant amount of haze had dropped over the highest peaks of the Rockies, so our views weren't the greatest. But on Friday morning, we awoke to the clearest, most perfect mountain day.

Our hostess in Colorado Springs was Sandy, who had been my youth pastor in high school. With her husband and three daughters (Marguerite is the one pictured below), she moved to CO five years ago and it seems to be suiting her quite well.

Sandy, Jim and the girls are all about the outdoors these days: mountain biking, hiking, camping. They do it all. Just a few weeks ago, Sandy and her Daughter celebrated her 5oth birthday by climbing pike's peak.

But since mom and I aren't quite as advanced at trailblazing, Sandy drove us up the pike's peak highway instead.

We stopped near the base to get this beautiful shot of our destination (Pike's is the peak on the far right).

and then continued on up.

and up.

and up.

Until we were in the clouds.

At the peak, we stopped to take in the view. Wowzers!

We also posed for lots of touristy pictures.

And, at Sandy's enthusiastic recommendation, bought some doughnuts.

Apparently, these donuts are world famous-- made with a special recipe to accommodate for baking conditions at 14,110 feet.

I photographed mine (Surprise!) and then stuffed my face! (Calories count less at higher altitudes, right)

After the peak, we stopped by Bristol Brewing Company a local brewery that Sandy's husband Jim raved about. I got a 5 beer sampler, and even Leslie, beer hater extraordinaire, found a brew that she could stomach. My favorite was the Laughing Lab, a Scottish ale that reminded me of my college favorite The Smokin' Scottish, yet another thing i'll always miss about the 'burg.

However, it should be noted that beer in the afternoon when your body is still adjusting to altitude changes may not be the brightest idea, and I ended up feeling a little woozy for the rest of the afternoon. My apologies for the fact that I was only able to get two decent photos after that. Photography and booze don't mix so well.

The last stop on our whirlwind tour of Colorado Springs was Garden of the Gods, so named by the Indians who worshiped at the site's magnificent rock formations.

Pictures don't do this place justice. It was stunning.

We finally left Sandy and co. at dinnertime, and headed through Denver to the home of some more family friends outside of Boulder, where I finally got a good night's sleep (no more 5am cry fests! Yay!). We'll head to Boulder for more adventures this afternoon. Stay tuned.

The Plains

On Wednesday, mom and I spent the night in Harrisonville, Missouri with family friends Mark and Vicky.

Knowing that I wanted to try some Kansas City Barbecue, they took us for a FEAST the night before at their favorite local place, Oden's.

Note: if you are ever in the Kansas City area and need to feed a football team, a yeti, or a slew of hungry truckers, order the family platter at Oden's. But if you're a party of four, your eyes may just be bigger than your head. Holy cow (literally--except for the ribs, it's all beef), I'm getting the meat sweats just thinking about that much food again!

A quick anecdote from the barbecue experience: Our waitress at Oden's has worked there for 22 years. Naturally, we took all of her recommendations when it came time to select our meats and sides, and naturally, we were not dissapointed. When she finished taking our order, she smiled and said "trust me," and then pointed at her rotund rear end, "I didn't get this way just snacking."

At 8 am the next morning, mom and I dragged our own barbecue bloated butts out of bed (hey there, alliteration) and hit the road: nine and a half hours through Kansas and West Colorado to Colorado Springs. Mostly, save for a few windmills here and there, the scenery looked like this:

Finally, at about 5pm, we started to hit some hills. And a few miles later, through our bug-stained windshield, we caught our first glimpse of The Rockies.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Today starts the second half of my drive, from Kansas City, Missouri to Seattle-- the half I'll share with my mother. At this point, I've hugged the last of my Virginia-bred friends, and yesterday I crossed the Mississippi. As my road buddy Jack puts it, I'm "halfway across America, at the dividing line between the East of my youth and the West of my future."

Though the journey thus far has certainly been emotional (why do you think I'm writing at 5:30 AM? Too many jitters to sleep well this morning), I've only cried three times in the past week, fewer tears than I expected with all of these goodbyes. I cried once on Friday, when my youngest brother took the field for his first varsity football game. The crowd rose to its feet and it hit me like a ton of bricks that this could be the only game I'll ever watch him play. I got more than a few funny looks as I stood in those bleachers, trying to cheer while drying the corners of my eyes. The next morning, I wept as I pulled away from my parents' house, watching my dad grow smaller and smaller as he waved from the driveway, the same sadness welling in his own eyes.

The tears came again that afternoon as I crossed the Virginia state line, remembering a similar September drive four years ago. My depression had reached its lowest point and I'd taken off towards West Virginia in a heap of sobs and snot, just hoping to find some room to breathe again. Saturday, as I passed the overlook where I'd stopped that day, I found myself overwhelmed with joy, remembering how God had met with me in the still small voice of the mountain breeze. And how in the years to come, he would take each one of my doubts and fears and inadequacies and transform them into a deeper, stronger, and truer faith. A faith that now compels me westward, though so many parts of my heart remain in the East.

And now you can rack that Kleenex counter up to four. The waterworks are starting again.

Still, despite these tears, my spirit grows more hopeful with every new mile.

For me, to travel is to test the vastness of God. I've seen his hand in everything the past few days. In the sway of cornfields and the curve of country roads. In the gleam of tin silos reflecting the mid-morning sun. In the coolness of the wind on my face as I hit seventy on a stretch of Missouri highway. In the hospitality of friends. In the smiles of strangers. In the unending horizon.

These are the moments that assure me that my path is secure. Moments when every worship song I've ever heard overlaps in my fluttering heart, bursting forth in a symphony of praise.

And I haven't even crossed the Rocky Mountains yet...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Too. Much. Barbecue.

I had every intention of writing an excellent post tonight all about my trip across the Mississippi and my pit stop in Mark Twain's hometown: Hannibal, MO. I even took a picture of the catfish I ate for lunch (what is this obsession I have with photographing my lunches??).

But, alas, my USB cord is nowhere to be found and I just ate enough burnt ends, texas toast, and cherry cobbler to sink the Titanic (I also took a picture of that meal. Weird, right?), so today's tales from the road will just have to wait.

Before I drift off into a food coma, here's a Song of the Day from the soundtrack to my drive through southwest Illinois this morning: Sufjan Stevens, "Come on! Feel the Illinoise"

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

An addendum...

I have just been informed about Kanye's "incident" this week at the VMAs.

Let it be known that I think Kanye is an idiot. BUT. Homecoming is a great song. So the SOTD choice stands. No mea culpa here.

Do you know what the midwest is...

Young and Restless.

OK, not really. But, since Illinois is Kanye's home state, I put on The College Dropout when I crossed the state line. And now I'm feeling like a pimp (yes, I rocked Jay-Z's Grey Album, too. Gotta get the ghetto out of my system before I pick up my mom tomorrow).

But I digress...

In actuality, save for a few college towns, southern Illinois is one big cornfield. As, I've been warned, are Missouri and Kansas. So it should be a riveting couple of days...

Still, the September weather is perfect, I'm staying with a great friend tonight, and this time tomorrow I'll be stuffing my face with barbecue in Kansas City. Not much to complain about here.

Right now I'm in Urbana-Champaign: Home of The University of Illinois, aka the Fighting Illini. Don't know what an Illini is? That's ok, neither does Laura, my friend who is working on her masters in urban planning here (and therefore currently making some sort of computerized map at the computer next to me). Apparently, their mascot used to be an Indian Chief but that wasn't PC, so they had to come up with something new. But let's get real, they're a Big 10 team, so no one really cares anyway, right? (low blow, I know, but I'm moving to Seattle, ok?? I have to get the college football trash-talk out of my system before no one cares. SEC owns it, Y'all!)

I'd originally planned to make it to Chicago this week, as I visited for the first time this spring and loved it. But it just didn't work out this time. So to honor the Chi, which is so close but yet so far away, here's your song of the day: Kanye West feat. Coldplay's Chris Martin, "Homecoming."

Monday, September 14, 2009


Today I left one best friend...

Only to meet up with another.

Chelsea was the first real friend I made in college and we have grown as close as sisters (but without the catfights-- praise Jesus I only have biological brothers). In November, she is having a baby boy! Obviously, "Auntie Rock," as I have been dubbed, is already spoiling baby Oliver rotten!

Right now, Chelsea's getting ready for the birth at her Grandparents' estate (yes, estate) in Bloomington, IN, where she moved in May.

"Shepherd's Rest" is what I would describe as a homestead. It has a fancy name, lace curtains, antique furniture and appliances, and a long, gated driveway.

If Betty and Don Draper moved to the midwest, I think they would live here. (of course, advertising isn't exactly a major industry in Bloomington, Indiana-- but I suppose Don could teach it at IU??)

I'm no shepherd, but I sure am enjoying my rest here, kissing pregnant bellies, relaxing on porch swings, and drinking lemonade with one of my favorite people in the whole world.

Who, by the way, may just be the most beautiful pregnant woman ever..