Wednesday, February 27, 2008


When I was in San Diego for my cousin's wedding, my aunt and I sat down to breakfast together and talked about her start with Mary Kay. She talked about how she never thought she could work outside the home; wasn't sure if she should work outside the home. Until staying at home after her kids had been safely sent off to school for the day became too much for her - or, more accurately, not enough.
Anyways, 20-something years later, she gave a talk to a group of women who work for Mary Kay, and used an illustration that she found really relevant to her time starting out:

It's a little fuzzy here (one can only do so much with the Paint accessory), but the basic idea is this:
Any time you (or I) have a decision to make, your brain can draw information from one of two sources: Your memory or your imagination. When you're a child, the thinking goes, you don't have much in the way of memory - so you ask your imagination. Essentially, the sky's the limit. That is why kids will give such over-the-top, foolish, unrealistic answers to questions like "What do you want to be when you grow up?" or "Why is the sky blue?" They'll answer with astronaut, firefighter, President, artist; they'll tell you that the color of the sky has a million different derivations - in not so many words - and isn't it beautiful! G.K. Chesterton writes about this idea better than anyone else I know of. In
Orthodoxy, he remarks that :
it might be true that the sun rises regularly because he never gets tired of rising. His routine might be due, not to a lifelessness, but to a rush of life. The thing I mean can be seen, for instance, in children, when they find some game or joke that they specially enjoy. A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life...they always say, "Do it again"; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger then we.

(Forgive me the extended quotation).

As we get older, our memories grow in size and in weight - emphasizing our records of past failures, humiliations, and defeat. We stop drawing from our imaginations - out of necessity, out of practicality, for the sake of a 'realistic' view of the world. This is especially true when it comes to my decision-making. I struggle with anxiety; I convince myself that I oughtn't take this or that chance because inevitably, I will fail. I do all in my power to avoid that know in my stomach that has become so familiar when I am standing on the edge of something new. I let my fears dictate my thoughts, my behavior, my interactions.
And all the while, my imagination is shrinking. I grow less creative, more afraid; less thoughtful, more rote. God becomes a nice thought, but a very distant one. And I shadowbox, alone, wondering when I will get a rest.

For we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.

SO, here's to imagination. To being uncertain and living well anyways - to knowing the light ahead is a saving light, even when it turns everything around us to shadows. It isn't easy, but his burden is light. We know where to turn . . . we have always known.

Monday, February 25, 2008

the oscar 10

my family has a tradition dating back 6 or 7 years, in which we all fill out oscar ballots (sound mixing and all), cozy down in front of the tv with more gourmet snacks than we could ever finish, and lord our triumphs, category by category, over each other; until, finally, the winner is announced. prize: $40 and a year's worth of bragging rights. i've only been bested twice, and this year found my in a tie with my sister (who chose the 'whatever-laura-didn't-pick' method of filling out her ballot, which strikes me as a remarkably lazy m.o., but i digress . . . ).
so, today has that december 26th, day-after-your-birthday kind of feel. although i didn't get to watch with my whole family, mallory and i camped out on the couch with the entire small-plates section of trader joe's on the table and quipped and bitched to our heart's content. to stave off the impending feeling of sadness and gloom, i would like to offer my critiques on this year's fashion flops, faux-pas, and totally awesome choices:

Top 5 best-dressed

5. Marion Cotillard
The dress totally didn't hit me at first - I thought she looked like a mix between a quilted Chanel purse and our friend Ariel, the Little Mermaid. However, as the inimitable Randoph Duke pointed out, the gold scales on the dress aren't quilted fabric at all but rather tiny, intricate fan-shaped gold designs that mimic the fin look. Her hair, the necklace, the back of the dress - it could have been a disaster, but it worked so perfectly that I can't see it as anything but breathtaking. Being gorgeous and so French doesn't hurt, either. PS - accessory of the night was that long necklace. Interesting...

4. Amy Adams
Love Proenza Schouler, love the sweetheart neckline, the vintage clutch, the little train, the hair - it just worked. I'm biased towards redheads who can pull off a great high-fashion look without making themselves look as if they just rubbed on four layers of Avon Self-Tanner in Deep Bronze... but beyond that, she looked elegant and gorgeous without tons of makeup. Well done, Amy; well done.

3. Keri Russell
I've loved her ever since Felicity, so excuse my predisposition toward the willowy, curly-haired coed - but she looked incredible. Glowing. That champagne-colored organza was perfect on her; it looked easy and fresh and perfectly appropriate for Oscar night. You can almost hear the dress swishing as she walked down the red carpet. Simple, elegant, impeccable.

2. Heidi Klum
Okay, so she's not a movie star, and I feel badly leaving Nicole Kidman off of this list, but . . . WOW. Talk about high fashion done right. She had the best red dress of the night, by far - the silhouette fell perfectly, the neckline was simple and clean, and the shawl piece - volume, drama, and elegance all in a yard of red silk taffeta. Thank you, John Galliano. Her hair worked perfectly - kept the sleek and elegant thing going, without distracting in any way from the dress. Loved it.

.... and number 1. Jennifer Garner
Holy smokes. I've always thought of her as this kind of mom-ish, tennis-shoes and jeans, sensibly dressed actress. She's certainly looked good at awards shows past, but she's never been the one who would steal the limelight from your Cate Blanchetts and Jessica Albas and Nicole Kidmans. But tonight - mission accomplished. She looked smokin. The dress was super dramatic, but with her simple (okay, it was VanCleef & Arpels and probably 40 carats) necklace and cuffs, she worked it. She put her back into it, as a friend of mine might say. Totally transcended the cute, girl-next-door, mom of Violet at the park swing look that she has inhabited. Simply stunning.

Honorable Mention: Nicole Kidman, Anne Hathaway.

Top 5 worst-dressed

5. Tilda Swinton
She seemed to have been channeling David Bowie, circa 'life on mars.' I am all for the empowerment of women via the deconstruction of image-as-king, and i totally get that makeup is, while a whole lot of fun to some, a slavish and chauvinist chore to others. But on Oscar night? You can't even put on a coat or two of mascara, or bother to comb your hair? And the Lanvin frock baffles. Perhaps because the crushed velvet reminds me too much of a pair of overalls I took to wearing weekly in the sixth grade. But it's totally formless - I just wonder what was going through her mind when she chose this number. She's always dressed to the flap of her own Crocs, but . . . really?

4. Jennifer Hudson
Okay - she's totally cute, she's got a killer voice, and the dress itself is not that bad. BUT, someone has got to tell her that if you have a well-endowed chest, wearing a sheath of bunched white fabric across them only makes for an unflattering uniboob. I, unlike many others, was a fan of the bolero last year - but this look, I cannot take. Did she look in a mirror? It is so obviously not right.

3. Miley Cyrus
You are 15. Fifteen. You cannot possibly appreciate Valentino, and you are only a star because of the Disney Channel. Or Nickelodeon. I mean, good for you and everything - but please go back to Brass Plum, and leave the haute couture for the grownups.

2. and 1. Daniel Day-Lewis & Mrs. DDL
Someone should have turned her away at the door. And done his hair. Removed his earrings; fixed that shawl tuxedo thing . . . I don't even know.

Honorable Mention: Diablo Cody, but she used to be a stripper, so it's cool.

Thursday, February 7, 2008


'how we ask our questions affects the answers we arrive at.'
'as soon as human beings pick up a piece of the truth, they make their mark on it.'
-krista tippert

'have patience with everything that remains unresolved in your heart. try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. do not now look for the answers. they cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. it is a question of experiencing everything. at present you need to live the question. perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.'

'my advice to you is not to inquire why or whither, but just enjoy your ice cream while it's on your plate - that's my philosopy.'
-thornton wilder

for everything there is a season,
and a time for every matter under heaven;
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what was planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time for love, and a time for hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

who's gonna love you when your looks are gone?

i've been thinking about doing this for a long time now; though i don't know when i'll share it with anyone. for now, it's my lent experiment, my indulgence, my journal, my writing-and-reflecting-and-secret-telling. thank you, paul simon, for the push i needed.

Who's gonna love you when your looks are gone?
Tell me, who's gonna love you when your looks are gone?
Tell me, who's gonna love you when your looks are gone?

God will,
Like he waters the flowers on your window sill.
Take me, I'm an ordinary player in the key of C,
And my will was broken by my pride and my vanity

Who's gonna love you when your looks are gone?
God will,
Like he waters the flowers on your window sill.