Thursday, October 21, 2010

this is the wonder that keeps the stars apart

"You're supposed to be the leading lady in your own life, for God's sake!"

One year ago today, I moved to a town I had no connection to, where I knew not a single soul, to work for a company I'd never heard of. I believe the Lord puts these desires in our hearts that He has every intention of fulfilling, if we’ll only listen. I had always wanted to move away and experience the fullness of life away from home, and a year ago, I did just that. The past year I've experienced nothing less than God's protection, God's patience and mercy and God's completely unfailing love.

I once heard Ted Haggard say that when you ignore God, He will do whatever He has to do to get you out of what you're in if it's not His will for you. I am living proof of that. You see, a few years ago, I had the earth pulled from beneath my feet. My world came crashing down around me and while I knew this event wouldn't define me forever, I can't deny that it is a part of me, a part of my history and a part of who I have become. This earth shattering event has in fact been the saving grace of my life that has led me to where I am now. As I continued really listening to God (of course, at that point, I didn’t have much choice), it became more and more apparent that it was time for me to find myself, to really learn who I am, to be on my own. I began applying for jobs all over the country. Only, I didn't apply for this job. A recruiter picked up my resume and submitted it. During my interview, they told me the job was actually closed but then they received my resume, and then they hired me. It was literally one month from the time I had sent out my resume until the time I had turned in my two weeks and was packing up my life. One year ago today, my dad, sister, brother and mom and I packed my life into a U-Haul. It’s a strange feeling packing up your life like that, seeing every material possession you deem important packed like sardines until you slam the door of the truck. I was ready for a change (though I’m not sure I will ever be ready to be a big girl with responsibilities…it’s hard being a big girl). I was ready for adventure. I was ready for my life. I arrived in Florida with an open heart, excited and nervous. My condo was perfection – the only one I had looked at “just in case” I got the job. One sunset over the palm trees, and the salt air on my skin, and I knew my spirit was going to be restored in this place.

I didn't really know what to expect out of this new life of mine. I've always been outgoing and been able to talk to strangers (they really do have the best candy), but I also was well aware of the fact that it's hard to make friends, especially the older you get. But, the Lord had it all orchestrated before I even got here. Through an old work connection, I found my second family, a group of people who welcomed me completely into their homes and lives and without whom I never could have made it down here alone. Whether I'm lonely, homesick, having surgery or just plain happy, their house is a house I go to for rejuvenation and love. I could never express enough my gratitude or admiration for this family. I prayed I would find a church where I could get involved and be surrounded with others who shared similar beliefs and once again, the Lord did not fail me. He called me to the most incredible church I've ever known that meets me over and over right where I am, without judgment or reservation. I've always believed relationships matter, and the relationships I've developed the past year are ones that I will carry in my heart forever, no matter where this life takes us. I could go on and on about the loves I've discovered down here, but I'd rather hold those close to my heart where they belong.

I've grown so much as a person in the past year. My mom said the first time she and dad came to visit me that she was able to see how happy I was down here. And I have been utterly happy. Sure, I've had some drama -- I AM Merdeezy after all -- but I can say without a doubt that the past 365 days have honestly been the happiest of my 27 years. I've found a niche here in Florida that I'm not sure I could ever replace. It didn't take me long to realize that to me, true contentment is sitting on my back porch, breathing in the ocean and salt air. I've learned to bask in the warmth of the heavenly love that is Florida sunshine. I've discovered how much my Southern-ness really means to me. I've become an even bigger fan of my family. I've learned not only what I want, but what I need, and what I'm willing to negotiate on (and it's not much). While I've always known I was treasured and loved, the past year has taught me how to treasure myself as a daughter of the King.

I don't know what's going to happen in the next year, or even the next six months. I don't know that I will be here forever (as Eric Church says, "carolina, you keep calling me home"). But I do know that the decision I made to break away from the comfort I knew in North Carolina was the best decision I've ever made. Every girl should be as blessed as I have been in this life and every girl should be able to say she's the leading lady of her own life. I highly recommend it.

The Lord your God is with you. He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you. He will quiet you with His love. He will rejoice over you with singing. ~Zephaniah 3:17

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Say pizza pizza, you blind mouse you

I’ve said before that my parents have worked extremely hard to provide for us, and the only things I’ve ever had to do without are things like tats and belly button rings. Although my folks always made sure we had more than what we needed, they definitely were always happy to get a cheaper deal…if there is one thing they instilled in me, it was that there is ALWAYS a better deal to be had. Case in point (and the subject of the hilarious phone conversation with my mom as we were recounting it. She called me up to tell me she was going to get new sunglasses and I suggested she go to the place I am about to describe to you).

When I was in 10th grade, it became apparent I needed spectacles. At this point, needing glasses was similar to needing braces in middle school: everyone wanted them. I guess they made you cool? And we all know, in high school, I was the very definition of cool. So I strained and strained until my eyeballs couldn’t take it anymore and I had to get glasses. I was forced to look cool. And smart. Similar to a sexay librarian was I. Always wanting to save money, my mom took me to this place in the ghetto (really, it may or may not have been the ghetto then, but it is definitely the ghetto now) and told me I had to find my glasses there. Everything in the store was $30, lens, frames, the whole shebang. This glasses place was famous because everything in their store was 30 green daddies. Now, when you’re in 10th grade and you’re income depends on lifeguarding and being the janitor at your dad’s law firm, you don’t want to spend your own money, so you take what you can get. But, when you’re in 10th grade, and everyone says “ohhh you’re dad is a LAWYER” to you, you tend to assume that 30 bucks isn’t going to break your parents’ bank account. Things like this didn’t matter to my parents though. If I needed glasses (which I did. It wasn’t like I was making this crap up), then I had to get them at this 30 dollar bill place. Please keep in mind that this rule only applied to me, not my sister or brother (granted, they didn’t need glasses) and definitely not my parents, since it was THEIR money. This place was in the middle of a strip mall that included a discount bargain shop (this was before the dollar store because popular), a clothing store for kids, and a little caeser’s pizza place. This strip mall had all the makings for a disaster written all over it. I don’t think I’ve ever really been embarrassed by my parents other than the time my mom cut my hair crooked and offered to pay me a dollar if I told everyone I did it (I did not accept her offer and was happy to throw her under the bus when people asked me what was up with my hairdo). So, we go to the glasses store after school one day to get my new shades. I really wanted a pair of tortoise shell glasses, but at this place, it was slim pickins. And because I was only allowed to spend THIRTY dollars on my glasses, I had to take what I could find. I found a pair of perfectly round, larger than john lennon black glasses. What I was thinking, nobody knows, including myself. We plunk down thirty bucks only to find out that it takes TWO WEEKS for the glasses to come in. No wonder it’s so cheap. I guess they order the frames directly from China and pay the minimum shipping they can get away with to actually have them shipped. Who cares that I couldn’t see a thing right then, because it would be another 2 weeks before I could see again, and really, what is two weeks? But, because we were apparently destitute and my eyesight was the least of our woes, I had to oblige and be ok with this two week turnaround.
After forking over the life savings, my mom suggested she would go walk around the bargain store and see what sorts of treats they had. I would have loved to have gone with, because I love a bargain, but I couldn’t see, so what was the point? Mom gave me some cash and told me to “run over to the pizza place and order us some supper to take home.” But, before I could go, she told me to make sure I said “pizza pizza because they will give you free breadsticks.” I am not lying either. Back when I could see, these commercials kept coming on the tv that said if you said “pizza pizza” to the guys behind the counter, they would give you free breadsticks. So, I knew exactly what she was talking about. People, do you get what I am saying here? MY MOTHER SENT ME TO LITTLE CEASER’S WITH A WAD OF CASH TO SAY PIZZA PIZZA TO THE GUYS BEHIND THE COUNTER SO I COULD GET FREE BREADSTICKS WITH MY ORDER. I mean, it’s a great idea but can you imagine what they thought of me, this little blind girl standing there saying pizza pizza over and over? Because I’m pretty sure I didn’t actually order anything first. I distinctly remember opening the door and saying “pizza pizza.” It was like when you go to hit a pinata and you can’t quite find the donkey with your bat…since my glasses were still 2 weeks away, I was walking into and around this pizza place saying pizza pizza over and over until finally, one of the workers said “do you want pizza with your breadsticks?” oh thank the Lord for you! This wasn’t embarrassing at all! Especially for me, the epitome of cool (by this point at least I had moved on from the purple kicks and was probably wearing a pair of equally awesome Doc Martens). I couldn’t get out of there, or through with this day, fast enough. And much like the littlest pig said wee wee wee all the way home, I yelled pizza pizza all the way home to our humble abode.

Sadly, I still say pizza pizza every time I see a pizza. I prefer to say it when wearing my designer spectacles purchased with my own dimes. And my folks? They just laugh and say they don’t remember this stuff. Of course not. Bullies never remember the pranks they pull.

30 By 30 (I'm almost 28 now)

Recently, one of my favorite blogs, The Frisky, posted a list called “30 Things Every Woman Should Quit Doing By 30.” It’s a pretty amusing list, and probably a pretty accurate list, but I take exception to more than several of the items listed. Basically, if I listen to this list, I’ve only got 2 more years before I have to grow the eff up. However, if I listen to this list, pretty much my whole life is going to have to change. I’m just not sure I can handle that amount of change all at once. So, I’ve taken the liberty to edit this list as I deem fit and appropriate.

1. Buying clothes from the junior section (except when needing something SEXAY to wear when finding my husband…see item 4)
2. Forgetting her parents’ birthdays (yeah, but by the time you’re 30, your parents are probably pretty much forgetting their own birthdays, so I’m golden).
3. Making out with her BFFs at bars for attention (this has never been an issue for me, so I am glad to have one less thing to change about myself when I turn 30).
4. Making out with her boyfriend at bars for attention (who does it for attention? I just prefer making out in bars because it’s dark and you can’t hear anything anyway. And really, who wants to TALK to someone anymore. AND, there’s a chance he could be my husband, so I need to maximize my time).
5. Filling her bed with stuffed animals (really, even one is too many…but pillows are not an issue).
6. Carrying a torch for anyone she hasn’t seen in the last five years (I wouldn’t call it a torch…more like a pitchfork…).
7. Rebelling against her parents for the sake of rebelling against her parents (I was apparently very ugly in middle school, so I guess it’s safe to say I got this out of my system)
8. Declaring an entire gender “all jerks.” (why would anyone do this? It’s only half true. the actual statement should be that an entire gender is a jerk but that only some are jerkier than others.)
9. Holding a grudge against anyone who wronged her in high school (I’ve never held a grudge. I just have the X LIST and if you’re on it, then you deserve to be on it, and you more than likely deserve what comes to you).
10. Skipping regular gyno exams. (I have nothing to say about this one because I do believe in being healthy).
11. Going to bed without washing and moisturizing her face (sometimes, after making out at the bar all night, it’s too much effort to take my face off).
12. Being “that person” who had a bit too much to drink at the office party (well, my other choice is to be the person who doesn’t have too much to drink, and no one wants to be a lonely rider, so, sorry).
13. Crushing on Justin Bieber (Justin Bieber will be 18 in two years, so when I’m 30, I won’t have to stop crushing on him. Because we’ll be married by then. And in love. And our makeout seshs will have moved from the bar to the backseat of a Honda so bite me).
14. Thinking she’s got it all figured out (sorry, not gonna change. No matter how old I am).
15. Calling her father “daddy.” (except I’m southern, so I get a pass)
16. Engaging in sibling rivalry (nope. While I understand how this would be ideal, and make you a lot more grown up, there will always be conflict amongst my siblings until they just accept defeat and admit that I am the winningnest of all children).
17. Trying to get by on her looks (yeah, I’m going to try to get by on my looks for as long as possible. And anyone who says they won’t continue to do this is a liar).
18. Living paycheck to paycheck (this would be ideal but we all need some RISK in our lives).
19. Expecting a man/knight in shining armor to swoop in and save her (If I’m still single when I’m 30, I’m giving up on love and holding out for money. And probably if a knight is wearing SHINING armor, then there’s a good chance he has some moolah in his bread box…so I guess this is one more that will not change at my birthday).
20. Aimlessly jumping from job to job (why not? If I can keep landing them, I will keep jumping. Keeps things interesting as I climb the corporate ladder while holding out for Justin Bieber in shining armor).
21. Using MySpace to pick up guys. (or, in my case, facebook...and i fully intend to keep poking random strangers when i'm 30)
22. Expecting a man to do all the wooing (well. I guess I won’t be finding my husband at the bar afterall since I don’t want to be the chaser. I want to be tagged, you're THE ONE!).
23. Wishing she had someone else’s life. (this won't be a problem since i wish for all of you to have MY life).
24. Expecting everyone to drop everything because it’s her birthday ... (hmm…as the years go by, I have developed more and more of an obsession about my birthday, so I fully intend for everyone to continue dropping everything for my bizdiddy!)
25. ... or because her “boyfriend” of two weeks dumped her…(well, lucky for me, since based on this list, I’m clearly destined to be single forever, we won’t have to worry about you all not dropping everything because I got dumped. You can just drop everything because i said so)
26. Measuring her self-worth by a number on the scale (I will measure it by the rock I expect on my hand when I hold out for money).
27. Being cheap. (noted).
28. Quitting a job without having a new one lined up first (especially in this economy!).
29. Blaming her mother for all her issues. (I don’t blame my mother for everything, but I suspect she will continue to come in handy when I want to get out of doing something. I mean, when you’re 30, you’re mom can still tell you that you aren’t allowed to go places, right?)
30. Romanticizing her 20s. (I will only do this if my 30’s prove to be more romantic, which won’t be hard since not one guy of my 20’s has proven to be the hero of a Nicholas sparks’ novel yet)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Ride Sally Ride!

space cadet  
–noun Slang .
a person who appears to be in his or her own world or out of touch with reality.

I was abused as a child. Not physically really, but definitely emotionally and mentally. Mainly by my older brother. One of his favorite pastimes was telling me fables which I of course believed (this is still a trait. You tell me they wrote gullible in the sky and I’m gonna believe it). I believe fable telling is a habit most older siblings develop as a way to deal with their emotions of having a new kid in the house who gets more attention simply because she is better than the first kid. As my little sister says, if my brother had met all of my parents’ standards, they wouldn’t have had to try for another, better baby. My brother had the most fabulous fables simply because he never stopped telling them. This fable telling is really only a subject not to be taken lightly because I have failed to stop believing the fables. Now, I know Johnny Appleseed is fake, I know Paul Bunyan didn’t really have a blue ox, but it was only a couple of years ago that I learned other people don’t believe that life exists on Mars.

Somewhere along the way, my brother informed me that there was life on Mars. I’ve always been interested in space exploration so learning that there was indeed life on Mars was HUGE for me. I couldn’t stop thinking of these people and what their daily lives consisted of. One night at dinner (approximately 3 years ago…So, this makes me about 25 years old), my dad shared with us some news regarding the quest for life on Mars. Utterly confused (why did I have this knowledge and no one else did?), I informed my family that life had already been discovered on Mars. Already under the impression that I was a space cadet (thanks to a conversation where my dad pointed out the space shuttle in the sky, I said it was already there, he asked where and I said “the moon.” To which he laughed and laughed, told me they haven’t been back to the moon since the early 70’s and then called me a space cadet, but a confident one at that…thanks, dad. Make me feel like 1 million dollars), my dad asked how I knew there was life on Mars. It’s not my fault my family is a bunch of stupids and has no idea what NASA has been doing all these years. I decided to let them in on a little secret: The people who live on Mars are called Martians. Dad asked how I knew Martians existed and I said because they make pottery and throw their bowls at Earth. I mean, that IS where moon rocks and space trash come from. My entire family just looked at me and shook their heads before laughing hysterically. Personally, I don’t know what is so funny about this theory. If you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Martians live on Mars and make pottery, just like we have some humans on Earth that are potters. People need to get over it and realize that maybe they are the stupids who don’t know a thing about space exploration.

This summer, Eli and I went to Kennedy Space Center to play one day. We ate space dots, talked to a real astronaut, and watched a movie about walking on the moon. I learned that the next shuttle launch is on my birthday. This is very exciting because I’ve always wanted to go to the moon, and my chances of successfully sneaking onto the shuttle increase dramatically if I’m actually there. I’ve got the perfect outfit too. See, about 2 years ago, my friend Emily and I were shopping in Palm Springs, CA on what is considered “the Rodeo Dr. of the Desert” and I came upon the most exquisite and beautiful coat I had ever laid eyes upon. It was white, pouffy and had a gigantic wrap around collar. it smushed down into a little box and then pouffed right back up when left without compression. It was without a doubt THE most fantastic thing I had ever beheld and I absolutely had to have it. I purchased it, knowing everyone I knew in America was secretly jealous that I had this hot commodity and they did not. Well, I may or may not have been wrong in my assumptions. I’ve never been hated on as much as I have been hated on when I have shown that coat off. The general consensus is that I look like a space marshmallow (and don’t worry about space marshmallows not being real. Apparently that doesn’t matter when someone is insisting you have an ug coat on your back and look like a space marshmallow). THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A SPACE MARSHMALLOW PEOPLE! but have no fear. all the jeaousy hating in the world can't hold me down when i put this little number on my back.

So, on Nov. 1, my parents (they’re all curious now that they’ve realized how their daughter should have been an astronaut, but mind you, not the kind who wears diapers cross country) and I are attending the shuttle launch. Because it’s my birthday, I am entitled to wear my birthday suit. But, because I am secretly hoping to get mistaken for an astronaut – I can see it now…they will spy me sitting in the crowd and motion for me to get my hineymo back onto the shuttle so we can get this show on the road – I must dress the part. So on top of my birthday suit, I will be donning the space coat. I will also be wearing a fishbowl on my head to help me breathe. Napoleon’s moon boots are on their way to me in the mail. I’m pretty sure you’ll be seeing me on the news as the next Sally Ride! And all you haters of the puff can feel ashamed for being such stupids about space exploration. I'm totes gonna pull this off!