Friday, September 26, 2008

Last Day!

Today is my last day working for the Lutheran Church! That's right, folks, no more pulling my hair out all day because the pastor's kids won't stop screaming and wailing and he won't pay attention to them. No more awkward people divulging random and/or irrelevant information to me completely unprovoked. No more bored Lutherans complaining because I forgot to capitalize some word in the liturgy this week. No more spending my days in a hundred year old building that smells just slightly of mold. And I'd like to be able to say no more ignorant people spelling my name "Rachael", even after being repeatedly corrected, but I know better than that.

Starting Monday, I'm going to be working at a childcare center. I wasn't actually looking for a new job, but God literally dropped the opportunity into my lap, and I got hired on the spot. I'm not sure if they've decided what age group to put me with, or what my days are going to look like, or even exactly how much I'm going to be paid... come to think of it, I'm not sure of a lot of things. But I am sure that the Lord arranged this, so it's hard to be worried about it.

The Pastor brought me a going away present. A bottle of Great Divide IPA, which I don't really like (I'm more of a Guinness girl), but it was a very nice gesture. Stephen says I should put some food coloring in it when I drink it, and make comments like, "This chocolate stout tastes suspiciously like a pale ale."

Oh, the excitement!


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Three Word Wednesday

The prompts at Three Word Wednesday are:



Judy used to be a passionate woman, full of joy and life. Everything was right, everything was sunny, and Judy felt it always would be. When Richard died, all of that changed. Her passion waned. Her once boundless enthusiasm dissolved slowly like some long lost trinket at the bottom of the sea, amidst the wreckage of a forgotten ship. The reality of the loss of her husband battered her like innumerable waves, and she felt that she would never love again. Eight years went by, and Judy kept mourning Richard, kept living life but not really living it, kept feeling sorry for herself.

Judy's fifty-sixth birthday found her standing alone in the self-help section at Barnes and Noble, wondering if any of the books could really help her find herself again. Judy began to feel eyes on her. Looking to her right, she saw him. A tall man of about 60, with more gray in his hair than brown, and well dressed. He was in the cooking section, holding open a cookbook. He noticed her looking back at him, and smiled.

"Maybe you can help me," he said open-endedly. Judy noticed his bare ring finger. She walked over to him, trying to appear casual. Her heart was fluttering, and she told herself that she was being silly and girlish.
"What are you making?"
"I thought I'd try my hand at a cheesecake. But I'm afraid I'm feeling a little overwhelmed." And he sounded overwhelmed. Judy glanced down at the recipe he held the book open to. New York Style.
"Any special occasion?" she searched, hoping against hope.
"No. I just needed to... well, I wanted to try something new. I've never baked anything," he half-muttered, and looked away.
After a moment, Judy said, "I happen to consider myself somewhat of an expert cheesecake baker, if you don't mind me saying so."
He grinned, and her eyes twinkled back at him. "I'd be honored to have the expert assist me. How about it?" he offered playfully.
"Well, come on, then," she laughed back as they made their way to the exit. "I like to add a little lemon zest in my cheesecake. Got any lemons?"

Friday, September 19, 2008


Since James recently did a post about Kiwiology (not kiwiology... since kiwi's can't talk, of course), I have decided to follow in a similar vein. I present: Southernisms. Admittedly South Carolina is not quite as exotic as New Zealand, and we definitely don't have any hobbits or belrogs or rings of infinite power, nonetheless, it is where I live. So here are some words and phrases I have heard used in regular conversation since moving here.

Bless Your/Her/His Heart: Usually said in a pitiful or condescending way. "The poor thing just ain't pretty, bless her heart."

Ya'll: You All. A Quintessential Southernism.

Ain't: Are Not. Another Southern classic which has spread nation wide.

Fixin' to: Preparing to. "I'm fixin' to make me some fried chicken."

Over/Down Yonder: Over there, wherever. "We're goin' down yonder to the Bob Evans."

Whenever: Used in place of "when", referring to a specific incident or day. "I was so proud whenever my boy graduated from college."

A Whole Mess Of: A LOT. "I've got myself a whole mess a' fried chicken, I tell you what."

Up Under: This phrase is utterly nonsensical. "I'm gonna hafta get up under the house to do some work."

Cute As A Bug's Ear: Cute. Really cute. Adorable, even. I didn't know bug's had ears, I thought they had sonar or vibration sense or something, but whatever. "Cute as a bug's sonar sense mechanism" doesn't roll off the tongue quite as nicely.

Useful As A Trap Door In A Canoe: If you can't figure this one out, I'm not explaining.

Slipperier Than Snot On A Doorknob: A lovely, refined way to describe something which is slippery, be it figurative or otherwise.

Bo': Dude. Bro. Man. Our friend Scott uses this one a lot and it still sounds weird to me.

I Done...: Used in place of the pronoun "I". "I done told ya, woman." One time I was grocery shopping and was buying a single can of beer to put in chili. The woman behind me in line shouted, "That ain't my beer! I done quit drinkin!"

Smack-Dab in the Middle: Another one that just doesn't make sense to me. What the crap is a smack-dab?

Hanker: I want. "I've got a hankerin for some fried chicken."

Dadgum: Damn.

Dagnabbit: Damnit.

Plumb: Completely. "I'm plumb wore out from workin up under the house and eatin all that there fried chicken."

That'll Learn Me (or Learn You): That'll teach me. "That'll learn you not to eat a whole mess a' fried chicken and then work up under the house, bo'."

In the Woodshed: You are in trouble and you're gonna get beat. You even get to pick your own switch, according to my friend Kristen.

Double Negatives (didn't nobody go, hadn't ought): "Didn't nobody learn nothin from this here dadgum post?".


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Three Word Wednesday

Thomg will be picking the 3 weekly words over at Three Word Wednesday, and I've decided to give it a shot. The word prompts are Agree, Execute, and Providence.

A Self-Made Man

A young man sits on the steps leading up to the yawning mouth of Robinson Hall. In this building, his fate awaits him. The economics department of Brown University is housed here, and Ahmed has classes soon. But still, he sits on the steps, unmoving. It’s a beautiful early fall day in Providence, Rhode Island, but the sun is dark in Ahmed’s eyes.

“Ahmed, Brown is a good school,” Father had told him.

“I’m just not sure it’s where I want to go, sir.” he replied, trying hard to keep his voice from trembling.

“Son, I did not have these opportunities,” Father said forcefully. “Allah blessed me, and I was able to come to this great country as a young man, and make myself what I am today. You will follow in my footsteps.”

“Insha’Allah, Father. But…” Ahmed swallowed hard. “I’ve been accepted to the School of American Ballet, and-”

“I will not hear of it!” his father roared. “You shame me, Ahmed. I have allowed this hobby, this deviation long enough. You are going to have a real education. You are going to have a respectable education.”

“Yes, father.” And so he had agreed, and something inside of him had died.

Ahmed still sat, an island of indifference in the sea of activity around him. He remembers the day of his audition. He and Mother had gone behind Father's back to the school; how nervous he had been, but he had dazzled them. They told him he was the most brilliant dancer they had seen that year. They told him his pas brisé and tours l’air were executed perfectly. They told him they hadn’t seen a more elegant arabesque yet. They told him his passion shone when he danced.

Now Ahmed drops his head into his hands and takes a deep breath. He raises his head and looks up at the sun drifting from behind a wisp of clouds. He grabs his book bag, slowly stands up, and strides away from Robinson Hall.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Ninth Grade is Over

I just saw a clip of the first interview Sarah Palin has done since being chosen as McCain's running mate. Everything I've been hearing about how inexperienced she is... this interview didn't really help to settle those questions. There were a couple times when you could tell she has absolutely no idea what the interviewer was talking about. I felt awkward for her.

One time in high school (ok, let's be honest... LOTS of times), I hadn't finished an assignment... I think I was supposed to have read a book for class. I remember the teacher called on me and asked a question about the title character of the book. I remember how intensely embarrassed I was; I remember stammering and stuttering and finally mumbling some BS that I had read on the back cover synopsis of the book. I remember how obvious it was that I hadn't read it. All those feelings came rushing back to me as I listened to Palin stumble her way through this interview.

Charlie Gibson of ABC News: Do you agree with the Bush Doctrine?
Sarah Palin: (long pause, fidgeting, etc.)... In what respect, Charlie?
Gibson: Well, what do you interpret it to be?
Palin: .... .....His worldview.
Gibson: The Bush Doctrine, enunciated September 2002, before the Iraq war.
Palin: I believe that what President Bush has attempted to do is rid this world of Islamic extremism. Terrorists who are hell bent on destroying our nation…
Gibson: The Bush Doctrine, as I understand it, is that we have the right of anticipatory self-defense, that we have the right to a preemptive strike against any other country that we think is going to attack us. Do you agree with that?
Palin: Charlie, if there is legitimate and enough intelligence that tells us that a strike is imminent against American people, we have every right to defend our country.

You know her handlers are backstage freaking out the whole time.
"Crap, crap crap! Didn't anyone explain our foreign policy to this woman?"
"NO, we thought you did!"
"Well, I thought YOU were going to!"
"Epic Crap."


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Friday, September 05, 2008

I hate to categorize people. I'm very careful about the things I choose to define myself by and I try to be just as careful when identifying others.

Recently I was having a conversation with my psychologist friend and she used a term which I've found myself mentally referencing a lot lately: "black-and-white people", and conversely, "grey people". It's pretty self-explanatory. Black-and-white people tend to view the world in absolutes and (in my mind) also tend to be somewhat closed-minded. Grey people tend to take situations on a case by case basis and to see the grey areas. These are general terms- slippery terms- and I don't mean to say that one is better than the other. They're just rough appellations for part of the infinitely complex conditions of human relationship. With that in mind...

I'm a grey person (can you tell? no? the above paragraph took me half an hour). I believe in grey areas. I believe nothing is ever as simple as it seems; in my mind there's always more than one side to a story. I don't think opinions and experiences that differ with my own are any less valid. But there are a few black-and-white people in my life that I find endlessly frustrating. These people have a worldview that simply does not allow for the possibility on any opinion besides theirs. There are two ways with them: their way, and the wrong way. They are dogmatic in their convictions to the extent that they alienate others, making sweeping generalities and oversimplifications. There's no discussion with them, no free exchange of ideas, no civil agreement to disagree.

For example: I've known lots of non-Christians and for the most part we've been able to understand each other and respect each other. But I've known a few black-and-whites who will ask me about my faith, not for the purpose of gaining my perspective, or learning more about what we believe, but for the purpose of railing on me for being wrong or foolish or misguided or whatever they believe about Christianity because they've never given themselves the chance to hear one of us out. Maybe they saw a group of Christians (here, I'm using the term loosely) on the news, holding signs that say "god hates gays", and assumed that we're all that ignorant. We're not. Maybe they met a black-and-white Christian (haven't we all?) and assumed that we're all that imperious. We're not.

Anyway. I know I can't be the only one who has engaged in a "conversation" with a black-and-white type who happens to be very passionate about politics. So in this election season when tensions run high and November is on every one's mind and I still haven't decided for whom to cast my vote, I have decided to swear off of discussing the matter with that handful of people. I'm happy to listen to you with an open mind, and you ought to listen to me. If that's not going to happen, why should I bother with you?