Tonight a friend asked me if I have any trips planned lately. I was at an event for the nonprofit I work for.

“No,” I said. “I am not planning on going anywhere for a little while. I’m just really happy. I love my house. I love my friends. I love my job. I’m staying put.”

It was great to be able to say that and mean it.

In a few months, the tourists will start to come. Before they get here, it is good to remember that this is just down the road from where I sleep each night:

One way a storm is building.

The other way, there’s this.

And this. I will never get over this.

But the best of all is this…

I don’t know what my life would be without this.

These are ladies I work with: my boss, my co-worker, and our former intern. Tonight we worked an event together, and I am reminded again how grateful I am to have them close. And to have a job that I believe in and love.

Life isn’t always easy, but God is so, so faithful.

Remember back a few years ago, when I started this blog, and I moved to California, and I didn’t know where this California adventure would lead me or if I would even be able to stay here? Remember? This is why I’m here. And it feels so good to know that.

So, thank you God, for revealing your faithfulness to me this weekend, through the beauty of this place, and the beauty of my friends.

So, this happened back in December, and it was really funny. But maybe you had to be there.

I have a brother. He is older than me and lives in South Dakota and teaches at a university. He is a smarty pants, and I miss him. He likes to read books and gave me a book for Christmas called The Ugly American. I thought he was trying to tell me something passive-aggressively. And then he told me that it is about cultural awareness — an area in which many Americans are lacking. Both of us travel to Asia for our jobs. It’s kind of neat to have that in common as adults. Someday I hope we will be able to hang out in India together.

My brother also really likes basketball. He has two kids, a girl and a boy, and I love them. When we were both at our parents’ house in Minnesota over Christmas, my brother was trying to watch a game on ESPN. However, his children were not in support of this decision. They protested, and my brother, being a good father, found a solution for the issue:


A Lady’s Boudoir

April 8, 2010

I’m very creative.

Which is what I say because my bedroom is messy all the time.

However, my friend Amy is coming to visit tomorrow from Nebraska (yipee-ay-i-eee!), so I figured I’d better clean up, else she would take one look at my room and book a hotel.

This is the first room I have inhabited for more than a year in the last 8 years. I know, I know, that’s crazy, what am I thinking, that’s a lot of shoveling stuff from one place to another. You don’t need to tell me that. The hop-scotch life was getting rather old. I’m starting to feel at home here, so I’m kind of proud of my little fox hole. It’s the first room I’ve had in a long time that didn’t sit halfway in cardboard boxes. It feels good to have a home. We ladies figure none of us will ever move unless one of us gets engaged, or our landlord kicks us out. So, I feel good about finally having a room that I plan on keeping as long as possible. I’ve actually spent some time making my little foxhole a refuge. Sometimes (read: most of the time) I don’t want to leave this room. And now, since it’s especially tidy, I may just use all my sick days.

Just kidding. Sort of.

In case you’re wondering, this is where most of the magic happens.

I’m sorry the first two pictures are a little fuzzy. They looked terrible with the flash on — not at all the lighting my room typically has.

Sometimes when I feel like I want to purchase more clothes, it is nice to organize the ones I have.
Then I get super excited about what I already have.

Sometimes I read.

It’s safe to say that I have a problem. A good bag is like a good pair of shoes.
It never goes out of style. It always fits.

Where I’m sitting right now… mmm…
‘Night.

Remember a few years back when I said that skinny jeans were a trend I would never embrace? Well, as of today, whoopsie.

It all started with my first L.A. roommate Julie. Julie is one of the tiniest people I know. Julie wears the skinny jeans, and she rocks them. I am 5’4” and 120lbs, not a large person by any means, but Julie still makes me feel like a yeti.


This is a picture of a man standing next to a yeti, at a time when Photoshop was only a glimmer in its daddy’s eye.

This is a picture of me standing next to Julie. We are the two in the center. Do you see it? Yeti.

I almost want to place a quarter in this picture to give you some perspective.

(Pay no attention to the belly button. I was channeling Carrie Bradshaw.)

In other news, I love it that Julie poses for the camera, like the photographer is someone very important, when really he was just some guy at the Grove who was gracious enough not to steal my camera. As a result, Julie has a high ratio of good pictures to not-good pictures. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bad picture of her.

(Yes, Pandora, I’m still listening.)

Anyway, on from the yeti and the belly button and back to the real issue: Skinny Jeans.

My excuse for not wearing skinny jeans even though Julie looks amazing in them is that she’s about two sizes smaller than I. Of course she can rock the skinny jeans. She’s skinny.

Gradually my Skinny Jean Avoidance has been breaking, bombarded by three specific recent events and culminating today, a day when I am, indeed, wearing skinny jeans. Avoidance be darned (not like socks — the other kind of darning). I am told that the brain naturally thinks in increments of 3’s, 5’s and 10’s. I am convinced that this is why my resolve so easily crumbled.

A few months ago my friend Lindsay bought her first pair of skinny jeans. My co-workers, Laura and Cristina and I met up with her for lunch at this fantastic little Orange County eatery called Side Street Café. She walked in sporting her own pair of skinny jeans and gave a testimonial – a story similar to mine – about the gradual breakdown of her own Skinny Jean Avoidance. Lindsay runs marathons and does Cross Fit and swims. She’s a personal trainer. She’s hot. Of course she can rock the skinny jeans. She’s skinny.

Then, THEN I happened upon a post by one of my favorite bloggers, The Pioneer Woman. I can’t find the post right now, but you should check out her site. She’s better than the cat’s meow. She’s the dog’s pajamas. She writes that big, flowy tops must be paired with skinny jeans, otherwise one looks frumpy. I will believe The Pioneer Woman, because I love her. She is a trusted friend who barely knows that I exist. Still, if she says so… and I think this was a pivotal moment for me, only further exacerbated by the following. (I like using the word exacerbate. It sounds kind of dirty, but it’s not. I’m edgy like that.)

A few months back I jetted up to San Francisco for the weekend to visit my college best friend Leah. Don’t I sound fabulous when I say that I jetted up to San Francisco? This is the kind of glamour I am living here, people. It is the kind of glamour where I sleep on her suede green couch in her living room. It is the kind of glamour that exists in always finding sand in my bed at home. It is the kind of glamour that dwells in the fact that my neighborhood reeks like an oil refinery at 8 p.m. every day. I am convinced the neighbors and I are slowly becoming retarded.

What I’m saying here is that sometimes my life sounds glamorous, but it’s really just life. Though I love my life, it’s a sacrifice to live far away from my family. And I pay mucho dinero to live aqui. Just didn’t want anyone to think that I think my life is more glamorous than it is. In fact, on this particular trip to San Francisco I sat in berry cobbler.

One of Leah’s fabulous friends hosted a fabulous party. We all cooked southern food and wore pearls. We ate pulled pork. We stood in the kitchen in our pearls, discussing cleaning the kitchen and bathroom, until Leah aptly pointed out that we were playing the part of Southern women too well.

Before the party, we had the challenge of transporting to the party three people and enough food to feed a whale in Leah’s Mini Cooper. While we were loading up the car, we set a pan of berry cobbler in the backseat. At the time we departed, I lifted the berry cobbler off the seat, not realizing that it had leaked onto the seat, and held the pan in my lap. As we walked up the many flights of stairs to the party location, Leah’s roommate Erin sympathetically informed me that I had cobbler on my assets.

Thankfully we were planning on returning to Leah’s to drop off her car and take the cable car back now that the food was deposited. That way we didn’t have to find parking and could return to Leah’s from any place in the city without having to return to the party location to pick up her car. So, I said to the ladies, “I promise I didn’t get my period.” And they laughed, and I went back to Leah’s to change. I was wearing a cute dress with boots. But then I had to change into the only jeans I brought. Jeans that were not skinny jeans. And everyone else who was wearing jeans wore skinny jeans.

Here we are:

We are all so pretty, but I am not wearing skinny jeans.

It’s funny how perceptions of things change. I’ve spent the past year getting used to my body settling into its womanliness. I’ve reached the age where it doesn’t miraculously stay skinny. I’ve got some hips. I’ve got some thighs. I’ve always perceived that I could not wear skinny jeans because my lower half is not skinny. But, today, I decided to change my perception of more than just a flighty trend. I’m changing my perception of my body. Because when it comes right down to it, who cares if I’m not as skinny as my friends. I’m rocking the skinny jeans.

I thought I would never do this, but here is a photo of my lower half in the skinny jeans. Go ahead and mock if you wish.

And, while we’re drowning in narcissism, here’s my new haircut.

I like to call it Woman Hair.

It is a phrase coined by my co-worker Cristina, in reference to when a woman takes special care to style her hair.

And finally, because this post is not yet long enough, here’s something very special to me. I am glad to have its support as I learn to wear skinny jeans:

It is the coffee mug I have had since I student taught high school English in the good ol’ days. See how I nestle it to me, like a valued pet? It says, “Don’t let the turkeys get you down.”

Thank you for supporting me during this meaningful time.

On Perseverance

April 1, 2010

Texts From My House

April 1, 2010

Roommate Katrina: I’m moving out.

Me: Happy April Fool’s to you too.

Katrina: L [our other roommate] fell for it.

Me: Ha ha! I did for a second of heart-sinking panic. Then I remembered what day it is : ).

Katrina: It’s kind of a joke because the girl who had your room actually did what I just did. But she was serious. Who texts their roommates that?

Me: Oh, gosh. That’s crazy : ). Please don’t ever move out,but if you do break it to me gently. I will cry.

He Has Raisin, Indeed.

March 31, 2010

Just another photo from our India travels…

If you think about it, the grammar really does make logical sense. “Raisen” could be the past-tense of “raise,” like “eaten” is the past-tense of “eat.” English just doesn’t always make sense.

All that aside, this makes me giggle out loud, every. stinkin’. time.

Let’s rejoice: He has raisin.

HAPPY EASTER!

She’s Moving In.

March 28, 2010

During my nap, I dreamt that I had a new roommate named Bickey McTastic.

The Week’s Worthies…

March 28, 2010

One of my goals for 2010 has been to balance my life more than I have in the past. This includes getting some financial stuff under control with a strategic plan, as well simply reforming from my work-a-holic ways in order to spend more time appreciating and doing the things I love.

I am the kind of girl who gets hooked on things she likes and knows will satisfy. You might call me an Addict of Quality Stuff. I don’t think I realized this addiction to specific products until I went to India the first time. It was the hottest time of the year — at the end of April and beginning of May last year — and we were sweating like marathon runners all the time. It was amazing how comforting it was to just have my small bottles of familiar shampoo and lotion that smelled like home. Don’t get me wrong — I love India. Sometimes. But when one is in such an unfamiliar place for the first time, trying to process through the newness of it all, it really helps to have something that reminds you of home. When my Indian friends visit the U.S. and then return to India after a long journey, I’m sure they feel the same sense of relief to return to the places that are home to them and have the things and rituals that are familiar.

I’ve spent some time reflecting today on a few things this past week that have felt like home to me… things that have resonated either through an emotional connection with a song or a TV show or a book, or through a practical breakthrough like finding a product that really works. And I want to share them in hopes that others might find the same sense of satisfaction in the simple things. So, here’s my list:

Pandora

If you haven’t started an account yet, do. It’s a website of free radio that you can tailor to your own tastes. You type in a song or artist, and Pandora will play music like your request. You can give the songs thumbs ups or thumbs downs to tailor the station even more specifically to your taste. You’re only allowed 40 hours of free music time per month, which can get kind of challenging at my office, because we constantly play music, but who can complain about 40 hours of free music? If you want, you can pay $0.99 to get unlimited listening in the course of a month, but I don’t find that necessary. Having to take a little break from Pandora for a little while makes me appreciate it more when a new month starts, and I have 40 free hours of new music to explore.

Today, this song, which played in my Rufus Wainwright radio station, resonated in my heart. It has been a weekend of reconnecting with old friends, many who have walked with me through this journey of moving so far away from my family, with so many hopes and equally as many uncertainties. They stuck with me through the breakup  and restored my joy. And that’s been amazing. I can’t even tell you. I have tears running down my cheeks right now. I was thinking of all of them and all my fantastic new friends in my Monday night accountability group and Wednesday night church and my roommates and my family… truly, they are Quality Stuff, and I need them. Also, this song in particular by Mat Kearney, and especially these lyrics:

the walls are shaking, I hear them sound the alarm
glass is breaking, so don’t let go of my arm
grab your bags and a picture of where we met
all that we’ll leave behind and all that’s left
if everything we got is blowing away
we’ve got a rock, and a rock til our dying day
i’m holding onto you, holding onto me,
maybe it’s all we got, but it’s all I need
you’re all I need

Orange Blossoms

The courtyard in front of my house is fragrant with them right now. It makes walking out to the garage to do my laundry absolutely heavenly. I can’t wait to step outside and switch the loads over. Maybe I will pull the ironing board outside as well and chat with the neighbors over the fence in this wonderland that is today in Southern California.

She Got Up Off the Couch

by Haven Kimmel…. this book is a sequel to one of my favorite books, A Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up Small In Mooreland, Indiana. Kimmel writes beautifully and hilariously about her childhood in a town of 300 people. It reminds me so much of my roots in Southern Minnesota, and of the wonder of being a kid. Yesterday I went to visit a dear friend who has an almost-two-year-old daughter. The daughter was thrilled to help her mama open the mail. I was that kid twenty-five years ago. I miss the time when getting brightly colored junk mail was thrilling and every envelope held a surprise.

Chuck

If you haven’t watched it yet, you’re missing out, particularly Season 3, Episode 9, which aired on NBC two weeks ago and was directed by lead actor Zachary Levi. The episode’s themes of friendship were so beautiful they made me tear up. Also, I wrote a fan letter to Zachary Levi to tell him how inspiring it is that he is a committed Christian working in Hollywood and appears to have a large, accepting, and loving heart.

You can partake in the deliciousness of Chuck here, though I recommend watching the previous seasons before viewing this episode. It’s family-friendly, quality, and hilarious. Also, Zachary Levi said this in reference to preparing for his role in Alvin and the Chipmunks, The Squeakquel: “There really is no way of preparing to work with talking chipmunks. You can’t find chipmunks at pet stores. How many domesticated chipmunks are there? You have to be inventive. I just went into the woods in the buff, living off nature, eating nothing but twigs and nuts and various berries that I could find. I became one with the animal kingdom and of course, chipmunks — none of whom ever talked to me.” Who can resist a funny guy?

Last night friend Julie said that another friend of hers has a saying: “A fat funny guy is a funny guy.” In other words, if a guy is fat but he’s funny, smart girls look past the physical discrepancies and even forget them. I also would add, “A bald funny guy is a funny guy.” Zachary Levi is neither fat nor bald — he’s very attractive — but as we all know, youth and looks fade. The above quote and his alleged quotes about faith, God, and loving others make me a fan. A super fan, even.

Also, I want him to be the mother of my children, though I didn’t say that in the letter. There is a third-date minimum, MINIMUM, for that kind of talk. I will just wait for him to come find me. However long it takes. I will stand out in the courtyard and smell the orange blossoms spring after spring, singing to neighbors of my love unrequited, as I iron the sheets and wait for his telegram, my hair gently coifed and lips blossoming with youth.



I give him the Ann Clipperton Stamp of Approval.

Bare Minerals Moisturizer

If you’re a girl like me and have sensitive skin, facial products can be a tragedy. They start out doing very well, bathing your skin in a beautiful, fresh glow. Then, five applications later, your skin is feeling oily, gross, and completely unladylike. Bare Minerals is the first makeup I’ve ever found that continues to keep my skin healthy, and I’ve been using it for almost three years. Recently I discovered their face wash and moisturizer, and the moisturizer, especially, has been revolutionary for me. I crave putting it on at the end of the day. It’s a little expensive, but I justify its expense because whenever I purchase a cheap lotion, I use a few squirts of it then end up casting it aside because it doesn’t work well with my skin in the long-run. It’s better to buy a bottle of more expensive lotion when I know I will use the whole thing and even crack it open and scrape the inside walls when the bottle is empty. By the way, this is a great money-saving trick for lotions and makeup. When the pump stops working or the bottle stops squirting, cut that sucker open and extract the rest with your finger. You’ll have at least three more applications that would have been thrown away. You can see some other reviews and purchase it here.

Now it’s time for some pasta and a nap. Also, it just occurred to me that I ate sushi and edamame twice yesterday. TWICE! California roll and edamame for lunch. Caterpillar roll and edamame for dinner, or, as we call it in Minnesota, supper. Except we don’t really eat sushi in Minnesota. Sadly.