Sunday, July 29, 2007

Short Story: Popcorn

Popcorn

When will this day be over!! One more class, one more class…I can do this.
Samantha walked over to the open door and smiled at the parents bringing their little three-year olds to dance class.

“Hi Morgan,” she said, “you ready to do some dancing?” I don’t feel like being Miss Happy-Teacher. “Why don’t you grab a mat to put your bag on and you can help me start our dancing row.”

Ten minutes later, she was facing six little three-year old girls. Each one was dressed in pink tights and a little pink leotard. On their feet were slippery black tap-shoes. “All right, zip those hands on your waists and squeeze your feet together. You ready to do some dancing?”

“Yes,” came the yells of the little ones. Oh, my head. It’s amazing how much vocal power they have at that age.

“All right, it’s time to wake up Mr. Music. On the count of three let’s see if we can yell and wake him up. One, two, three…”

“WAKE UP MR. MUSIC.”

The little girls jumped and wiggled in their glee.

Samantha walked over to the CD-player saying, “Are you awake Mr. Music?”

A deep man’s voice replied, “Of course I am. I’ve been working here just as long as you have today? What, did you think I could take a nap in the middle of all this racket?”

Samantha jumped and turned quickly. There was no one in the room but her and the kids. She shook her head. I must be more tired today than I even realized. I’m hearing things!

She reached out toward the CD-player and hit play.

“Here we go again, playing the same old music over and over. Why don’t you spend a little money and buy something new. Don’t you know how sick I am of this CD?” The voice was low and gravelly – definitely a man’s voice.

“Who said that,” Samantha whispered.

“I did, ding bat.”

“Who are you, and where are you?”

“You just pressed play on me, dear, and told the little brats over there to wake me up.” said the speaker. Samantha just stared at the player. Cautiously she touched it. Still hard…metal…

Just then Alyssa came over and pulled on her black dance skirt. “Teacher, Mr. Music is awake, I want to do some shuffle-steps.”

Samantha shook her head to get the man’s voice out of her brain. “All right Sweetie, I’m coming.” She left the music playing and walked over to the kids. No more voice was talking. I’m imagining things – must get more sleep tonight.

The kids were actually working hard today. They did shuffle steps, and jumped in a box, and did some taps with their heels and toes. Samantha walked over to the CD-player and turned the music off. For a moment she thought she heard a man yawn, but she quickly put that thought out of her head and walked back to the kids.

“I think we better do some popcorn jumps,” said Samantha.

Big grins popped out on their chubby faces – they loved popcorn jumps.

“All right,” Samantha said, squatting down low to the floor with the kids all mimicking her action, “let’s sizzle.” They all made sizzling noises and then jumped us as high as they could (for a three year, two inches is a huge jump). “POP, POP, POP” came the shouts of the children.

Samantha blinked. She could have sworn Morgan’s white leotard had been pink when she came in. Get a grip on it, Sam. “One more time!”

“Sizzle, sizzle, POP, POP, POP”

This time, there was no mistaking it. Savanna hadn’t had white hair when she came in the room. Samantha looked around the room again – it was just them. Then, she looked at the kids…all of them, their hair and leotards looked white…. “All right,” she whispered, “um, everybody do a beautiful tap bow. Go change your shoes to ballet shoes.”

As the kids walked back to the mats, she eyed them closely. They all had on pink tights, pink leotards and slipper black tap-shoes. Savanna had black hair; just like she had always had black hair.

Samantha sighed and turned to put on her own ballet shoes. Twenty minutes, I can do this. Don’t loose it Sam…

“Miss. Samantha, I need some help tying my ballet shoes.” Samantha walked to the kids and spent the next five minutes tying ribbons and helping them make a straight row. Finally, she walked in front of them and turned to face them.

“Ok, ladies. We better stick some glue on our hands to make sure they stick tight on our waists while we do our ballet steps,” she said as she held up her imaginary bottle of glue.

The next few seconds were filled with the sounds of “shhh, sssss,” as the little ballerinas squeezed their imaginary glue on their hands.

“All right, zip them on your waists! Are they stuck on there?”

“Miss Samantha, my hands are stuck, they won’t come off my waist,” said Morgan.

“Good, Morgan.”

“No,” Morgan whispered, “they’re stuck. They won’t come off.” Her eyes began to fill with tears and her lower lip trembled.

“It’s just pretend,” said Samantha. “See, my hands can come unstuck.” With that she pulled her hands away from her waist, where they had been “glued” on. Well, she attempted to pull her hands away from her waist. They wouldn’t come off. They were stuck. Seeing Miss Samantha’s hands wouldn’t come off her waist either, Morgan began to wail.

“Shhhh, shhh, Morgan. Is everyone’s hands stuck?”

All the little girls nodded and Samantha could see five other lips begin to tremble. Don’t panic, don’t panic. That’s all I need is six hysterical children and no hands to deal with them. Do something, anything!

“Everybody sit down.”

They all flopped on to the floor. Amazing how hard that is with no hands to use.

“All right, I don’t know what’s happening, but I think it must be something special. Maybe it’s magic” What am I saying, magic? Whatever…they’ve shut up. Think, think, think…

“Maybe if we made a wish the magic would fix our hands? Do you think that would work?”

At the word magic, most of the girls had stopped crying and looked up interested.

“Like Harry Parter,” asked Alyssa?

“Yes, just like Harry Potter.” Thank you J. K. Rowling. “Do you think making a wish would work?"

Most of them nodded their heads, so she continued. “All right, at the count of three everybody wish as hard as you can. One…two…three…” They all wished then…little noses screwed up in concentration…nothing happened. Morgan began to cry again. Samantha sighed. Just then Savanna popped up and yelled, “I unglued, I unglued.” Everybody’s hands popped loose and the little girls got up and began jumping up and down and yelling in excitement.

“Good job everybody,” Samantha said. Well, she had to say something, didn’t she! She glanced at the clock. Thank goodness, it’s time to go. I can’t handle any more weird things.

“Everybody give me a beautiful curtsy and let’s go home.” Everyone bobbed a little curtsy and then ran and got their bags. That had to be the fastest day ever that they had cleared out of that room.

Alone, Samantha changed her shoes and collected her record-book and music – cautiously taking the CD out of the player. As she stepped out of the door she looked around. Everything looked normal; everything looked peaceful. She gave a little shiver, sighed, and walked away. Time to go home and take a bath.

Short Story: Old Friends and Coffee-Shops

Old Friends and Coffee Shops

Misha sat on the bar stool at the high little table in the corner of the coffee shop. She watched as a car drove past; someone taking their drivers test. She had seen a lot of those around here, with the DMV right across the street. The shop door opened and she turned to see if Opal had come yet. It was just some bald-headed businessman with a black suit and hideously colored tie. He was closely followed by what appeared to be a man left over from the 70s. He stank of hemp and other things she couldn’t quite identify. Misha shrank away from the smell in disgust. She didn’t think such a mixed variety of people would be found in a place like this – but there you had it. Businessmen conducted agreements at the tables, druggies and hippies buried themselves in the corners talking, and there was always at least 2 or three college students chatting about this class and theory or that professor. Even the churches in town were constantly asking the shop to cater for this or that event. I wonder if they even know the owner is gay. Probably not, they just like the food.

The door opened again. Hopefully, Misha looked up at the newcomer. A very tall, skinny lady was approaching the counter. She looked about 30 years old, and had to be over six feet tall, not counting the three-inch heels she wore. Her face looked embattled, like she was trying too hard to make it attractive, and the vertically striped sweater she wore just accentuated her height.

With a sigh Misha slumped in her chair and looked at her watch again. Quarter-past. I’ll wait another 15 minutes and then order something to eat. At least if she doesn’t show, I can still get some lunch.

She let her mind drift. They had always met here for lunch in the past, she and Opal. It was their shop. Even the owners knew it. As soon as school let out they would run down here and grab a fat-free smoothie to plug the holes in their stomachs before they would head to the studio. Class always started at 4:30 and they wouldn’t get to eat again until eight or nine o’clock that night.

They were both dancers. They had started ballet class together at the tender age of three and had stuck together all the way through high school. In their first recital they had been mice at Cinderella’s castle. They stole the show of course, at least that's what their moms had said. They had helped one another sew on the ribbons for their first pair of Pointe shoes. (They had been so excited neither one had noticed they had forgotten to the cut the ribbon first and had to unstitch the whole thing.) Hours had been spent on solos and duets for recitals and competitions. They had always had each other’s bags to rummage through to look for Band-Aids, hairpins, and even leotards. Opal was always forgetting her leotard. Just like she always forgot everything. Most importantly, their friendship provided a shoulder to lean on when one or the other didn’t place as well as they had wished. Like the one recital Opal had strained her knee and fell, halfway through her solo. She had tried to do the correct thing and get up and keep dancing, but she fell again in pain. It wasn’t until they had gone out at 2:00 in the morning and splurged on milk shakes that she had finally been able to laugh about it all.

Misha sighed again and glanced at her watch. 12:22.

It had been a year since she had last seen Opal. All their lives they had wanted to dance together professionally - they had planned it all out. Then came their senior year of high school. It was a week before the university audition. Misha had waited at the studio for over an hour for Opal to come so they could practice their solos for the audition. She had gone over her solo three times and had finally settled on the floor to stretch when she heard the door to the room open. Opal stood there, her long hair loose around her shoulders, dressed in jeans and her blue dance sweater which read, “Shut up and Dance.” Her suspiciously red eyes and the crumpled tissue in her hand gave silent testimony that she had been crying.

“Opal. What’s wrong? Why are you so late?”

“Sorry. I was talking to someone. I…I…,” she stopped and took a deep breath. “I can’t dance, Misha.” Her voice was strained.

“What? What do you mean, ‘can’t?’”

“You heard me, damn it!!! I CAN’T DANCE. How many times do you want me to say it? I can’t dance, I can’t dance, I can’t dance!!!!” With that she crumpled into a ball on the floor and began to sob.

Misha had run over to her and held her until she was calm enough to explain what had happened. All the while Misha was rehearsing scenario after scenario in her mind. What could have happened? Of course Opal could dance. She could always dance. That was what their lives were meant to be…

“My knee has been hurting me again. I didn’t want to tell anybody, but Mom came home one afternoon when I didn’t expect her and caught me crying about it. She insisted we go and get it checked out by the doctor. He took x-rays of it, and I got the results today. My kneecap is shot. He said there’s no way I can ever dance on it again without damaging it so much I would have to have major surgery.”

Even now, Misha could remember the chill which had coursed through her body as Opal told her what had happened. This wasn’t in their plans – it wasn’t supposed to be like that. Surely another opinion, therapy, something…but in her heart she knew it was pointless. They both knew it was pointless. A dancer’s career is based entirely on the fitness of her body. No university, and certainly no company, would ever accept a dancer with such a major defect.

Misha had gone to the audition. Opal had insisted she go. She kept saying that Misha couldn’t give up her chances just because her friend wasn’t able to go.

“Besides,” she had told Misha,” I can always just get my education degree and teach dance. I’ll be fine.”

Misha was so lonely in the car on the way to the audition. That was the first audition Misha had ever attended without her friend. Amongst the midst of strange girls in leotards and tights with numbers pinned on their backs and stomachs, she was even lonelier.

Two weeks later Misha received her acceptance letter from the University. She was in. She was going to do it – live her dream, be a dancer. Her heart had sunk when she thought of calling Opal. Opal had congratulated her and they had talked about options for Opal, but it was all wrong. Their conversations were strained and short, well under the three-hour conversations they used to have that had convinced both their parents to get them a separate line.

Since then, so much had changed. Misha had gone to the university and succeeded in her classes there. Just a few weeks ago a scout from one of the bigger companies on the coast had come to their end-of-year performance to check out the dancers. He had told her to come to the company audition next month; they probably had a place for her. She was in her prime; she was living her dream. But always there was a place in her heart that longed for a black bag with silver stitching on it spelling out Opal, lying next to her bag.

Opal, she thought sadly. Misha looked up and saw her friend standing there.

“Opal!” She got up to give her a hug. It was like hugging a piece of armor.

Opal somberly said, “Hi Misha. How are you?” Opal was dressed in a professional suit carrying a little purse and a black day-planner. She was working as an intern for an insurance company and was taking night classes at the community college to get her degree to accounting.

Misha smiled at Opal, “I’m doing great. Have a seat, join me.”

As Opal turned to set her jacket down, Misha felt something was missing. Then it hit her. Opal’s beautiful long hair, the hair she had prized since she was three, had all been cut short and was now framing her narrow face. I guess there’s no point to her having long hair anymore, no need for buns.25

Opal sat and they looked over the menu like they had never seen it before – even though it had never changed in the 10 years they had eaten there. The food was ordered, and the necessity of talk became apparent. It was all very polite, matter of fact, and shallow. Opal had a new live-in boyfriend, the third in that many months. "Yes, her schooling was going well. She should be done with her degree in a few years."

"Had she gone to see her grandmother recently?"

"No, her job and studies kept her very tied to town, thank you."

After 45 minutes of charred talk they finally got up to leave. Please, Misha wanted to beg, please, say something real, anything. Smile. Tell me you hate me. I don’t care. I just want to know you’re still a person…Where’s my Opal?

Opal extended her hand to shake with Misha. “It was nice of you to look me up. Be sure to call again next time you’re in town.” With that she turned and walked out of the shop.

Misha sat back down on the barstool. The bell rang as the tall lady walked out of the shop. Misha glanced down at the table, finding she had unconsciously shred a napkin into strips. Lying there was Opal’s day-planner. Still forgetful. Well, at least one thing is still the same.

Misha picked up the day-planner and walked through the door, out of the shop. She needed to return this quickly. After all, she had a plane to catch. The door closed firmly behind her.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

8 Hours of Non-stop Reading Devourment :)

Well, I came home from work yesterday (which on a total side-note - I now truly understand the rest of the world's pure enjoyment over Fridays...leaving a job, knowing that truly I can leave it and not have to worry about any of it until I get back on Monday, is a novel and definitely nice experience!)...I ate some dinner, slept for about two hours, and by 10:40 had met Amber at Barnes and Noble to begin the waiting process to get book 7 of the Harry Potter series.

We sat and played cards and chatted for the hour and half until midnight rolled around, waited in line for about 45 more minutes, and then returned back to my house - book in hand - to begin our final HP journey. For those of you who don't know our history with this book...

When we were roommates at Evangel, we were hearing all sorts of things about the HP books. From a lot of people that they were horrible, evil books, and from the schools we were doing practicums in...that they were amazing. We finally decided that we needed to settle this once and for all and actually have a properly formed opinion. At the time, only four books were out. Together we read the first four books along with several Christian books/websites analyzing the stories etc and we both (a) fell in love with the stories and (b) both had issues with the majority of arguments being made over them. If you ever want to know my reasons on that, feel free to ask and I'll explain...

Any ways, when book five came out, we both had copies and seperately read them, staying up till about 3am in the morning to do so. Both of us were dying to talk to someone else about what was going on in the books, but as we didn't know the other was up, didn't have the opporutnity. Later that week, we were discussing reading them and realized that we had been up at the same time, and determined that with the last two we should just make it all much easier and read them together. So book 6 we went at midnight, picked up our copies, and read all night.

And tonight, armed with much chocolate and fruit, we finished out our tradition and finished off the last book together (admittedly, Amber's still reading as I write this - yes, I know - I'm a speed-reader, I can't help it!). Any who...I am now very, very sleepy, and very satisfied with the ending to the series.

But truthfully, the part that really means the most to me is having shared this with one of my best-friends from start to finish. Are we crazy for having stayed up all night? Quite possibly...we're definitely not as young as we were in college!!! Will I ever do this for another book series? Probably not. But it was worth it!


Taken at 7am after we had been up all night...

The stuff to keep us going!

My Amber

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I have a cubicle!

Now, for many of you, this may seem like a very natural, normal part of life. However, for me, I have entered a brand-new world. I started my job yesterday...a normal(ish) 9-5 (well, 8 to 4:30) kind of job where I do my work and what doesn't get done gets done the next day. No lesson planning, no grading, no extra meetings and responsibilities...it's a very weird feeling. I was stressing out on Monday - the day before I started - because I hadn't done anything to prepare for this job. Normally, I'm used to weeks of prior cleaning, lesson planning, copying, meetings, etc...but for this, I got up in the morning, got dressed, went to work, and that was it. Definitely one of the oddest things for me, however, is this concept of having a cubicle. I kind of like it...still my own space, but unlike my classroom, not so much space that I sometimes get overwhelmed with what to do with it all! Nor am I trying to cram in 35 students every block; which, when I think about it, is a really good thing because there's no way they would all fit!

I do like my new position, thus far, although I did wind up with a ghastly headache yesterday trying to take it all in! I don't really see it as a career position in which I want to spend the rest of my life, but at the same time, the girl I'm working with is lovely, and all in all, I think I will be happy with my time here. A little bit of social work, lots of self-monitored stuff (particularly once I actually know what I'm doing), some data entry stuff, lots of problem solving, and even some text-book publishing! We'll see where it all takes me, but for now, I sit content. And the best part, I have yet to hear any foul language...for those of you who have never had to work in an environment similar to what I have experienced the last few years...not having to hear the "f" word and other such pleasant morsals every few words is a great relief!

The other funny thing is that there are three sets of missionaries working here currently all from the Northwest district (i.e. Washington), all of whom have known my family - and thereby me - since I was a little girl! Since missionaries are my favorite people in the world to be around, this makes me very happy!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Coffeehouse Churches

I've been contemplating the phoenominon of the coffee-house church (my personal name for them). What I mean by "coffee-house" church are these churches that you walk into on a Sunday morning, they have nice little coffee-houses at the front of them, everyone goes in, gets their coffee, stands around and chats, goes into service, does 15 maybe 20 minutes of singing, nice quick 20-30 minute sermon - few announcements and offering - and they're out of there...satisfied for having done their weekly duty with very little inconvenience and a nice cup of coffee to go all for the low, low price of $2.99 plus tithe (hopefully). We ran into this phoenominon quite a bit last year as we were looking for a new home church to settle into. Something pastor mentioned in church recently brought the idea back to the forefront of my thoughts, and I have to admit, it boggles my mind. I can see why an individual who wants to do their weekly duty by attending church but really doesn't want to be "inconvenienced" very much would find this style perfect, but I don't really see why all these Christians whom I know truly are serving the Lord enjoy going to the services that I experienced in those types of churches. Now, this is my own personal opinion, so please don't be insulted if you feel I am describing something similar to the church you attend, but so often I found the services to be trite, spoonfuls of milk and nothing of substance, and quite frankly, lifeless. How do people grow never mind thrive in their walk in an atmosphere like that? Perhaps I'm just missing something, and it's all in the small-groups or some such...I don't know. But it's been puzzling my poor, little brain for awhile now. Not that more traditional churches don't have their own issues, it's just that I've found these particular churches seem to fit into this picture of "fast-food" Christianity that I have seen an awful lot of the past few years...

Just some thoughts...

An addendum: In doing my devotions this morning, I was reading 1 Corinthians chapter 1. And I was reminded, yet again, of the grace of God as Paul, speaking in the Corinthian church who gave him all sorts of trouble, starts out his letter giving thanks for them and for the work God is doing through/in them. Good reminder!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Essay: The First Five Minutes

The clicking of heels is a distinct sound cherished by little girls as the signal of being “grown-up.” The empty hallways ricocheted the crisp, brisk, sound off the highly-polished, tile floor, the red lockers, the bright, industrial lit ceiling, back down and around in a never-ending echo of efficiency. In that empty, big, industrial building, every sound seemed magnified, coming back to haunt its listener in a never-ending reverberation .

The click of the key in the door-lock was like a cymbal crashing. Stepping inside the door to the dark room and fumbling for the light switch resulted in a flood of light like the lightening of the storm that was building outside. Inside the room, the shadows, frightened away by the sudden infusion of light, peered in at the windows that looked out into the courtyard.

I stood for a moment surveying the room – the classroom – with a mixture of pride and sinking terror. The blackboard gleamed cleanly, begging to have words of wisdom scrawled across its face. The little pile of colored chalk (much more interesting to write with than boring, standard, white chalk) lay heaped ready for use. All the books to be handed out stood neatly stacked on the shelf looking large and somewhat daunting with their huge, purple bindings. The syllabi were painstakingly lined up on the table at the front, ready to be passed into the hands of seemingly uninterested teenagers who would no doubt be more concerned with how to earn an easy “A” than as to what magnificent works of literature they were to become masters of in the upcoming months.

The air held the tangy scent of cleaning polish, left over from the scrubbing the rows of desks had received on the previous day. 35 uncomfortable desks, all waiting to be marked up, doodled on, and more than likely otherwise abused by 100 students every day, were uniformly lined in precise rows.

At the back of the room, neatly organized with grade-book, lesson plan book, pens, pencils, tape-dispenser, and stapler, the teacher’s desk sat prominently ensconced in its own corner. The computer hummed a little as if waiting in eager anticipation for the hours of perfectly designed and flawlessly executed lesson plans that would be composed upon its keys. The bookshelf behind the desk was crammed with texts – dog-eared and marked, supposedly holding the keys to a perfectly managed classroom in which every student would succeed, all would behave angelically, and each would respect and trust their teacher – that paragon of wisdom and ability.

The teacher – knowledgeable, calm, humorous, yet able to control her classroom with a mere raise of an eyebrow. Well-loved, liked, a woman to be returned to in later year and thanked profusely by her students for being their guide, their shining-light to further paths of glory and success in the outside world.

At this point, day-dreaming broke off because of a rather sudden and unpleasant queasiness that made itself known and quickly grew to affect every limb and nerve with it’s panic-producing touch. Idealness, while pleasant to cherish, is unfortunately easily shattered and the distinct knowledge that one has chosen the wrong profession and will fail utterly and be disgraced completely is enough to daunt the strongest of personalities.

Failure loomed large: the students would learn nothing, chaos would break lose, and I instinctly knew that I would be run out of the school in two weeks with no job, no future, and bucket-load of nightmarish experiences.

Thus began the first five minutes of my career as a high-school English teacher.

HRLyons

Poem: Abuse

Can a hug ever hurt? 1
Does it ever seem black like the bruise of abuse?
The danger of losing control –
lashing out in sickly sweet wrath
can bring a life from the highest heaven to the pit of hell. 5

In truth, a hypocrite’s kindness can kill more easily
Than an enemy’s cruelest blow.
Like the friend who draws you near,
then,
suddenly spurns you away; 10
melts the soothing sweetness of love;
turning it bitterly sour.

A slice of your soil has been hacked from within you.
The brain has stopped, slowed down in shock.
Like paper constantly recycled 15
you feel old and used.

The child imitates the world around her,
And learns the art of leading others one,
only to pull away and watch as they buckle
under the sudden weight of loneliness 20
pressing upon them.
If only tears could cure the fear of trust and faith.
Like rain, wash away the memories and scars of hate.

All have been taught the reality of the one
who saunters in to break us with his spit of contempt. 25
Have all been taught the reality
that a hug can be cruel and kill us?

HRLyons

Poem: Monster

He felt fear like a child’s closet monster 1
Just out of reach; about to jump from a hidden spot.
He could just see it from the corner of his eye,
Poised for action to attack his weakness.
He felt fear creeping upon him 5
Like the hands that will grab ankles
From under the bed in the night.
Perhaps it would smother him,
Destroy his chance for survival.
He felt fear like a child’s closet monster. 10

HRLyons

Poem: 23rd Psalm – Revised

McDonald’s is my restaurant, I shall not want.
It makes me sit down on hard, wood benches.
It leads me through crowded malls.
It replenishes my strength – satiates my appetite.
It guides me in the paths of cholesterol –
so I look like its namesake.
Even though I walk through the valley of shopping,
I will fear no hunger, for you are near me.
Your burgers and fries, they comfort me.
You provide plenty of fats
in the presence of high blood pressure.
You fill my stomach with grease – chocolate milkshake is my delight.
Surely Big Mac’s and Chicken McNugget’s will follow me
all the days of my life.
And I will dwell near your open doors – O McDonald’s –
Forever.


HRLyons
Dedicated to the American Population

Poem: TCK

Like the migrant bird 1
traveling place to place
frequently resting, never stopping
journeying evermore;
no place is permanent; 5
no place is strange.

Like the tree
in shallow soil,
its roots do not go deep,
easily transplanted – reaching ever out, 10
ever striving to find
a good nestling spot.

Like the hybrid in nature,
the collection of specks
partly one, partly another 15
and yet maintaining its own society –
never truly belonging with others –
it stands in a class of its own.

We dwell on the shrunken earth –
Ever Moving, 20
Ever Searching,
Never truly
Belonging.

HRLyons

Poem: "Locked up"

Locked up – trapped
Fight against the bars –
They are stronger.
They overcome.

World goes by – fleeting
Cry out to be noticed
They turn their heads,
Smile – walk away.

Eyes of hopelessness – brimming
Whisper for a friend
No answer –
No one cares.

Years go by – no change
Buried in a prison
Handmade, self-contained,
But fear keeps trapping you.

HRLyons

Poem: Charitable Works

We hire the poor ones
to produce an invitation
to our sappy sunflower party
at the villa.


Then we send them out to consign
the invitation to lofty neighbors
who instantly lift their snobby noses
at the messenger.


Coming together we erect pedestals
to our own charitable enterprises;
as the poor worker we hired
trudges home to try and feed
his starving family.

HRLyons

Writing Note: This was written from 10 randomly chosen dictionary words: invitation, sappy, consign, erect, hire, lofty, produce, sunflower, villa, instantly.

Poem: Summer-Wanderings

We were never to cross the road alone
To reach the salted seaside shore.

The wooden, rickety, stilted building,
With lumpy beds and hospital sheets,
Smelly bathroom, cement kitchen, creaky floor,
Was our loved location in the summer days.

Scattered friends brought together at those precious times.
We sat together during evening service,
Tantalized by the fishy sea breezes.
Playing games till midnight, scary stories till three,
Then sneaking out across the road,
To walk in the sand with the sweltering sunrise.

We were never to cross the road alone
To reach the salted seaside shore.
HRLyons

Poetry

Currently I'm reading through a collection of Victorian Poetry. I'll confess, the Romantics and the Victorians are my favorites when it comes to poetry. So, there will probably be quite a few references to these two styles of poetry in this portion of my blog.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning: my absolute favorite love poem of hers is Sonnet 14 from Sonnets from the Portuguese.

"If thou must love me, let it be for nought

Except for love's sake only...

for these things [smiles, looks, ways of thought, behaviors] in themselves, Beloved, may

Change or be changed for thee, and love so wrought

May be unwrought so...

But love me for love's sake, that evermore Thou may'st love on through love's eternity."

Poem: Telephone

The simple ring of a telephone. 1
A message of death across its wire.
The nonchalance in its tone.
Failed understanding, cry of “liar.”

Joy in life, a journey just completed. 5
The world shattered in a minute conversation.
Where did it go?
Why did it flee?

My life is ever publishing the expanded edition,
Life is now a finished book for you. 10

HRLyons

Poem: Boxing

You can box up my things:
articles, junk, teddy bears, and music.
You can box away my books and clothes,
my photographs, my toys,
But you can never box away my heart.

You can’t put the memories in four squares,
store them under the bed,
or in a closet.
They won’t sit and get dusty under your care.
You can’t close the lid on my emotions.
You can’t ship away my fears and pains.
You can’t tape down the lid to my life.

You can’t box me up,
trap me in a corner,
and leave my mind to gather cobwebs.

Do as you like with all I possess,
But you will never box me up.

HRLyons

Poem: Dreams

Dreams

Blue midnight – still glass sea. 1
Angels wings bend down – flit away.
Still, simple, solitary tree.
Black, stark against the moonlight.
Desolate, loneliness cries out 5
And is hushed as if frightened
By the sound of its own voice.
Clouds cross over – night grows dim -
An eerie quality sinks in…
Flap of wings – strong and sure 10
A call of hunting shatters the quiet
Echo upon echo resounds over the sea
And dies away in a distant land
Far, far beyond here.
As if awakened from a slumber, 15
The cloud passes on through the sky
Blue midnight – the rippling sea
Laps by the shore of the tree.
And angels wings bend down
Like the mist over the sea 20
And all becomes hazy.

HRLyons

Other Cleanser to Try

Vinegar Rinse (stain remover)

2 2/3 cup vinegar
1 1/3 cup water
Essential oil to scent (10 to 15 drops)

Pour into bottle.

*Do not use on mustard or blood.

Furniture and Stainless Steel Polish

Furniture and Stainless Steel Polish (great for wood)

1 cup water
½ cup vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
10 to 15 drops lemon essential oil

Add ingredients together.

Shake before use each time.

Wet Wipes

Wet Wipes (there are tons of recipes out there to make these even more baby friendly). I tend to use wet wipes for tons of stuff though because they're easy and quick to use)

1 roll paper towels (Bounty is good)
2 cups water
2 tbsp baby shampoo/bath
2 tbsp baby oil

Cut roll of paper towels in half with an electric knife (remove the cardboard center)

Combine water, baby shampoo, and baby oil.

Put papers into container.

Soak with solution.

All-Purpose Cleanser

All-purpose Cleanser (great spray, works really well on just about everything!)


4 tbsp white vinegar
2 tsp Borax
¼ cup Dr Bronner’s castile soup
10 to 15 drop essential oil

Add vinegar and Borax.

Fill bottle with 2/3 cup hot water.

Shake until Borax is dissolved.

Add ¼ cup Dr Bronner’s soap.

To scent, add 10 to 15 drops essential oil.

Gentle Scrub Cleanser

Gentle Scrub Cleanser (all purpose scrub. Works great for counter-tops, bathtubs, etc)

2 cup baking soda
2/3 cup water
20 drops tea-tree oil
½ cup Dr Bronner’s castile soap
1 tbsp white vinegar

Mix baking soda, castile soap, and water.

Stir until lump free.

Add vinegar and tea-tree oil.

Whisk together.

Wishes - Other

  • scrapbooking materials
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 :)

Wishes - Books

I am delighted to report success! I have completed my long-sought after collection of L. M. Montgomery books! Just had to share.

Lorna Hill’s SADLERS WELLS SERIES

  1. A Dream of Sadlers Wells (Evans 1950)
  2. Veronica at the Wells (Evans 1951)
  3. Masquerade at the Wells (Evans 1952)
  4. No Castanets at the Wells (Evans 1953)
  5. Jane Leaves the Wells (Evans 1953)
  6. Ella at the Wells (Evans 1954)
  7. Return to the Wells (Evans 1955)
  8. Rosanna Joins the Wells (Evans 1956)
  9. Principal Rôle (Evans 1957)
  10. Swan Feather (Evans 1958)
  11. Dress-Rehearsal (Evans 1959)
  12. Back-Stage (Evans 1960)
  13. Vicki in Venice (Evans 1962)
  14. The Secret (Evans 1964)

Jean Estoril - Drina Series

Drina Dances in Exile

Drina Dances in New York

Drina in Italy

Drina in Paris

Drina in Madeira

Drina in Switzerland

Drina Goes On Tour

Drina Ballerina

Noel Streitfeld - Gemma Series

  1. Gemma
  2. Gemma and Sisters
  3. Gemma in Love
  4. Gemma Alone

Pamela Brown – “Blue Door” series

  1. The Swish of the Curtain
  2. Maddy Alone
  3. Blue Door Venture
  4. Maddy Again
  5. Golden Pavements

Maud Hart Lovelace - Betsy-Tacy Series

4. Heaven to Betsy (1945)

5. Betsy in Spite of Herself (1946)

6. Betsy Was a Junior (1947)

7. Betsy and Joe (1948)

8. Betsy and the Great World (1952)

9. Betsy's Wedding (1955)

  1. Carney's House Party (1949)
  2. Emily of Deep Valley (1950)
  3. Winona's Pony Cart (1953)

George MacDonald - Random Books

  • Wilfred Cumbermede, 1872
  • Gifts of the Christ Child, 1882

Madeline L’Engle:

Individual Books:
Bright Evening Star And it was Good: Reflections on Beginnings

C.S. Lewis - Random Books

  • "The Allegory of Love: A Study in Medieval Tradition"
  • "Beyond Personality: the Christian Idea of God"
  • "The Four Loves"
  • "A Grief Observed" [originally under the pseudonym N.W. Clerk]
  • "A Preface to 'Paradise Lost'"
  • "The Problem of Pain"
  • "Reflections on the Psalms"
  • "Studies in Words"

Patricia St. John - Random Books

  • Twice Freed
  • Tanglewood’s Secret
  • Star of Light
  • Nothing Else Matters
  • The Runaway
  • I needed a Neighbor
  • The Victor

Twelve Months of Monastery Soups (Paperback)by Victor D'Avila-Latourrette

Twelve Months of Monastery Salads: 200 Divine Recipes for All Seasons (Paperback)by Victor Antoine d'Avila-Latourrette

Wishes - Music

Music

  • The Red Violin soundtrack
  • (This CD) Tchaikovsky: Swan Lake, Op.20; Conductor:Charles Dutoit; Orchestra: Montréal Symphony Orchestra
  • Adolphe Adam: Giselle'
  • Prokofiev: Romeo and Juliet (not complete ballet)
  • Khachaturian: Spartacus (not complete ballet - musthave “Adagio Of Spartacus And Phrygia” on it!)
  • Humperdinck: Hansel and Gretel (children’s opera)
  • The Most Relaxing Classical Music in the Universe
  • Save the Last Dance soundtrack
  • Yann Tiersen - Amelie soundtrack
  • Trio Medieval - any of their CDs

Wishes - Movies

On DVD. In general order of desired.

  • Miss Potter
  • Toy Story 1 and 2
  • Bug's Life
  • TV Series: Yes, Minster
  • TV Series: Doctor Who- the newest seasons
  • The Nativity Story

Awkward

There is always a certain level of awkwardness in meeting with some individuals. I had lunch today with a very sweet couple, the wife of whom has known me since I was little and was /is very good friends with my parents. However, while I know of this woman, and I have followed her life through her letters to my parents and occasional cards to me, I have not actually met her since I was about three! It wound up being a very nice lunch (once we found each other!), but the whole time was this subtle level of..."I really don't know you, and [on her part] you don't look at all like the little girl I remember!" Naturally, since I'm now in my mid-20's and no longer blonde! I imagine I will have experiences like this my entire life - a downfall or perhaps advantage of being the daughter of missionaries - lots of people know you that you really don't know yourself! All in all, it was a good experience and I'm glad I made it happen, but still...awkward!

Movie Commentaries

Next- and another HORRIBLE movie! Seemed pretty good to start; an interesting examination of someone who can see a few minutes into his own personal future. However, the ending of it completely destroyed any appeal the rest of the movie had! So sad. And Nicholas Cage looks old.

Premonition - three strikes we're out on our Netflix rentals lately! This was also a pathetic movie. Sandra Bullock did a good job, but even she couldn't save this movie. The ending was so pointless; another, time-manipulation type movie. Totally unsuccessful.

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer- Didn't actually finish this movie. To psychopathic for my taste. A fascinating idea, to try to present smell through a visual medium, but it's all about a creepy murderer, psychopath...couldn't stomach it. Chris just told me the rest of the movie!

The Last Mimzy - another flop. Should have been good, but was too New Agey for me, and the plot didn't feel like it actually went anywhere. Very odd.

August 15 - Marie Antoinette- I'm still not sure how I feel about this movie. It was cool in that it expected the audience to know the story of Marie Antoinette (i.e. they didn't assume stupidity on the audiences' part). However, the dialogue was minimalistic, almost to a fault. Did a great mix of depicting the customs etc of the time while making the whole thing feel modernized. I'm going to have to consider this one a bit more before I can really say how I felt about it...I do like Kirsten Dunst though. She's an enjoyable actress.

August 12 - Bridge to Terebithia - If you love the book, you'll probably really like this movie. Really well done mix of a child's perspective of the real world and a fantasy/play world. The fantasy was not overdone, but it was really well depicted. I recommend :)

August 5 - An Affair to Remember - Yes, yes...I know this is an old movie. But I love it so much. Few movies consistantly make me tear up, but this one definitely is in that category! Cary Grant makes me happy :)

August 4 - Miss Potter - If you love Beatrix Potter's books at all, or if you have a heart at all...you will love this movie. This was one of the best movies I have seen in awhile. So well-written and well-acted in, it was amazing. I've read about her life before seeing the movie, and the movie appeared to be very accurate. Renee Zelwigger (sp?) is a pheonomonal actress. I highly recommend watching this movie. There is one sad part, but it is true to her life.

July 31 - Breach - Good movie! It's based on the true story of the recently discovered FBI agent who was acting as a spy (Hanssen). Really well done. Ryan Phillippe has a knack for picking well written stories, and Chris Cooper is always a great bad guy. I don't know how closely it follows the actual story, but this a really good movie regardless!

July 15 - Pan's Labyrinth - This is an interesting movie. Rather gory in parts, but absolutely fascinating. It's basically about a captain in WWII who is fighting his own private war - seemingly - against some militia in Spain. His pregnant wife and her daughter come to live with him, and it combines the graphic horror of his grisly life with the fantasies of the daughter. Beautifully filmed, but extremely violent in parts - as in even Chris couldn't watch a couple of scenes because of the graphic depictions. Absolutely not for children, but rather worth watching once.

July 6 - The Fountain - DO NOT EVER WATCH THIS MOVIE. The idea seemed interesting...man looking for the tree of life in order to heal his wife. However, it was totally new-agy, buddhist, and had an absolutely horrible ending.

July 4 - Transformers - I surprisingly really enjoyed this movie. The two head robots were a bit of drama-queens, but really it was a fun movie. There are some innuendos that would make me hesitate in letting too young of children see it; however, all in all, I liked it.

July - The Painted Veil - Great Movie. A very cultural drama about a couple who go to China and are dealing with their marriage and what is happening around them simultaneously. Can't pinpoint exactly why we (my darling husband and I) enjoyed it so much, but it's going on my to-buy list.

June - Night at the Museum. A fun movie that turned out to be a lot better than I was anticipating. Pleasantly clean.

May - The Queen - This was a really fascinating movie. It examines what was happening in the royal family at the time of Diana's death. The man they got to play Tony Blair did a really good job, and all in all, I think it was a pretty fair representation of what went on. Well worth watching.

May - Bruce Almighty - OK, as a general rule I hate Jim Carrey. I find him overdone and obnoxious. However, there are a few roles that he has done that I've really enjoyed: The Grinch, Lemony Snicket, The Truman Show to name a few. This was another one of those good roles. I was concerned about where the movie would take the whole "God" concept, but they did a really good job with making it funny without blasphemous. I would say worth watching.

May - Charlotte's Web - I prefer the cartoon and the book. It was cute; it's a great movie for kids, and the animation was awesome. But all in all, the huge talking spider was a little nerve-wracking!

April - The Nativity Story - Really beautiful movie. So well researched and great acting. Loved it!

April - Blood Diamond - Could not make it through this movie. Leonardo DiCaprio does a really good job with what I saw, but the violent reality of the movie (particularly watching the young children be brain-washed into becoming violent killers) about made me sick. Turned it off about 1/3 of the way into the movie.

April - Stranger than Fiction - With Emma Thompson (whom I love), I was prepared to really like this movie. Well, I loved it. This is a great idea, and really well-acted. The whom satire concerning literary critics and their morbid love of death and depression was hysterical. I want to own this movie.

Light Reading

  • Since I've been sick, I've apparently been on a Terry Pratchett kick. I just read through three of his books - The Wee Free Men, A Hat Full of Sky, and Reaper Man. For those who don't know anything about Terry Pratchett, he is a satirical fantasy writer...somewhat similar to Douglas Adams (although - and this is going to infuriate some friends of mine - I actually prefer Pratchett to Adams - a little less sci-fiey). He has created a rather bizarre world called Discworld, which is just that - a disc. These random characters have all sorts of adventures on this discworld, but truthfully, it's the mirror images they hold back at life that make him such a fascinating author.

These three books are just the most recent of his I read. They include some very interesting points. For example:

Wee Free Men: "Some things start before other things." Which is very logical if you simply think about it!

Or, (and the English major part of me loves this one!) "'Onomatopoeic, she'd discovered...mean words that sounded like the noise of thing they were describing, like cuckoo. But she thought there should be a word meaning a word that sounds like the noise a thing would make if that thing made a noise even though, actually, it doesn't, but would if it did. Glisten for example. If light made a noise as it reflected off a distant window, it'd go glint!. And the light of tinsel, all those little glints chiming together, would make a noise like glitterglitter. gleam was a smooth, clean noise from a surface that intended to shine all day. And glisten was the soft, almost greasy sound of something rich and oily."

Reaper Man - "...there is no such thing as somebody else's problem, and that just when you thought the world had pushed you aside it turned out to be full of strangeness. He knew from experience that the living never found out half of what was really happening because they were to busy being the living....It was the living who ignored the strange and wonderful because life was too full of the boring and mundane."

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Decisions, decisions, decisions

Just to finish off the original blog I put on here (which, by the way, I stole from my myspace page as a practice blog while I was messing around with this)...

I have taken the job. I start on Tuesday the 17th, and I'm actually quite eager to get into it. I really do feel that this is the right job. God has just given me a peace over the whole thing. So, trusting on that and knowing that He has never let me down before - I'm going to go for it.

In the few weeks between now and that decision, I've been faced with a second decision: where to go to school?! I think I have finally settled on Grand Canyon University. Once again, no where else feels "right" and somehow I just keep coming back to this school. So, it's off to do my masters!

To Blog or Not To Blog

Why am I doing this? I have a myspace - I blog on there occasionally, so why do I want to start an actual blog? Well, there are several reasons.

1. I am trying to get back into the habit of writing consistantly, and even if this is not always (although it may be occasionally) creative writing, at least I'm writing.

2. I want a record...I remember always watching my Mum keep her diary every night (more or less), and I've seen her refer back to entries...and I've always thought that was a great idea. So why don't I do it? I don't know. Possibly becuase I've grown up in a generation in which typing is much more common than hand-writing and my brain goes faster than my poor hand can keep up? Possibly because it's hard to edit and revisit the journals that I have keep over the years due to messy hand-writing, etc. Either way, I'm going to try to this version and see how it works!

3. I have many friends with whom I have a hard time keeping up, and this is one way to attempt that.

4. And somehow the layout and design of an actual blog rather than myspace is much more pleasing to the eye.

So there you have it. I shall try and see how this goes.

My Decision June 30

June 30 4:30am

I have insomnia. While this isn't a continual occurance for me, it does sneak up on me occasionally...and nearly always when I'm stressed or really focused on something major happening. I guess I should have seen it coming, but I always manage to block out the long, restless, sleepless nights until I'm hit with one again. And so I sit here writing, contemplating what it is that is driving my poor, little mind bonkers now!

I put my resignation in with Springfield Schools back in February. This was a decision - also surrounded by many nights of insomina - that was agonizing to make and distinctly life-changing. In turning in that letter of resignation, I essentially took a massive pay-cut, left the field of study I had slaved away in for 4.5 years of college, and wandered off to do - well - I'm not really sure. Granted, I do want to go back into education at some point, but I also want to get my Masters and I have also been in desperate need of a break. Public school teaching is, well, stressful. Not the most positive of environments, very long hours, and politically speaking - incredibly frustrating. The past three years have taught me so much. I have grown as an individual so much - but some of it has not been the positive changes I would have liked. I have found myself become more depressed, cynical, angry, and even bitter. And so I had to leave to not become the bitter, evil teacher that I dreaded ever seeing teach.

The few months between putting in my resignation and finishing out the school year were long - not least because of the number of inquiries I was getting on what was the new job I surely had that would influence me to leave the school. Of course, I had no job. I was walking by faith and much prayer knowing with that ultimate peace that I had made the right decision and was in the Lord's hand, but not having a clue as to what I was doing!

School let out on June 7th, and the following week was full of wedding preparations and final cleaning up days at school. The 16th was my sister-in-law's wedding, and directly following that we left town for a week for a huge family get-together celebrating Chris' grandparent's 50th wedding anniversary. In short, I had no time to really job hunt. I had put in an application at the A/G headquarters back in February, but, as anyone who has ever had to deal with that building's human resource department will know, hearing back about jobs from there is a rare and difficult thing to do. Not that there aren't lots and lots of jobs; they are just being processed with a seemingly certain level of incompetancy that rather bewilders me.

Upon our return home, I set about the monumental task of finding a job. Monday and Tuesday, I put in applications at various places and scoured the internet/newspaper for leads. Wednesday, similar idea, except that I received a phone call. An important phone call. I had put my application in at Global University thinking that it would be good to at least have an application on file there, but not really seeing any jobs that I thought I would be suitable for currently. Apparently I was wrong. Their human resource director called me Wednesday to ask me to an interview for a job on Thursday. Thursday I interviewed. It went really well (I hate inteviewing). Friday - 8:45 am - I receive a phone call offering me the job.

And now here I sit, somewhat bewildered, wondering what it is I should do. I have been praying for a good job in the right place for months. Ever since I heard about this job I've been very excited. But of course, my analytical, sceptical brain keeps warning me to not be too excited because really is this the job for me. Is this where God is leading me? Or am I simply deluding myself because I'm relieved that I got a job interview?

Yesterday, I had the nerve-wracking/amazing experience of sitting down and looking at our budget and trying to figure out if what I was being offered was enough to keep up afloat financially and not really affect our lives too drastically. I thought for sure major changes were going to have come to our lives and was prepared to deal with those consequences. And yet, this was the easiest budget caluclating I've ever done. The numbers just fell into place. Yes, we are still taking a large cut to our budget. But in reality, it will not affect our day to day lives hardly at all. We have worked so hard to get out of debt, and the last of the major payments (not counting our house loan of course) will be paid off this month. Even our savings will hardly be touched. I sat and finished figuring and manipulating and caluclating and just stared at the numbers in disbelief. Unless I have screwed up completely somewhere, we are taken care of with ease. How is this possible? I don't know. I showed the numbers to Chris last night, and he felt the same way. I can't see this as just coincidence; the numbers are too perfect...I truly see math as being a realm God works through sometimes, and His hand is all over this.

So, the easy lesson I take from this is that God has not abandoned me, and He will take care of us - whether or not this particular position is the one I am supposed to take.
The hard question still facing me though is just that: do I take this job or not?

Pro's: Christian environment (something I've been praying for); I really liked the people I interveiwed with/would be working with; the money is about average for what I would probably find at any job I'm offered (without God working extraordinary miracles); benefits are included in the job; it is what I've said I've wanted - a 9 to 5 type of job which I can leave at work and come home and have a life (or as will be the real case - come home and work on my masters degree!); advancement opportunities are a very real possibility - not right away, but once I finish that degree I'm in a prime spot to teach again at a higher level and with the content areas I adore; the work is detail, task, data oriented - which truthfullly, I really do enjoy - but it's varied enough that I probably won't get bored; it has a good balance between social vs. self-monitored work - very important for my introverted nature; and the timing is really good.
Cons: the health providers are different than what I've had in the past and I don't know if I can keep my doctor - whom I love and absolutely would be very sad to not have anymore; raises are somewhat random in coming because of the nature of how the university is funded.........................................what else? I don't know.

And so here I sit, looking at the lists and asking myself what to do........Is this the next leap I have to take to get on with this adventure God has convinced me to take, or is this simply a reminder from God that He is handling everything and not to fret because He will take care of me along the way.

I have till Monday to make up my mind.