Tuesday, September 16, 2008

i don't know nothing except change will come

nerves. sometimes, i am a bundle of them. this is one of those times.

starting new things is not a skill i have. it doesn't come easy to me to go to a first day of classes, or move somewhere different, or begin a new job in a field about which i know very little. some people are great at this; thrive on the energy that they get from big-ticket change.
sometimes i think i'd rather do data entry or make coffee forever, just so i wouldn't have to go through any more big changes in life.

and then, just when i get comfortable in my complacency, the words that my friend michele told me come to mind. i can't recall word-for-word the conversation, but it went something like this:

michele: so you say you want to become a better, more alive person. what are the events in your life that have shaped you into that kind of person so far? when have you sensed God alive in you?

laura: well, like when people have given me lots of stuff for free and easily and quickly, too, so i'm not inconvenienced by waiting. when i do the same thing for a long time and i don't have to change or become uncomfortable.
(michele is kind of a hard-ass. she didn't accept this answer, so i tried again).
OR, when things have been really hard in my life. my first day of eighth grade, when i was so nervous all day long that i thought i was going to throw up and prayed 'God, be with me' in my mind so much that i missed the intro to advanced algebra. going to westmont college and stumbling through the first several weeks in which i thought i would surely cave into homesickness and anxiety, and then didn't because i knew God was with me and he showed himself through friends and words. traveling to europe with people i didn't know, which sounded like a good idea before the reality of 14 weeks and half a world worth of removal from my base. a few conversations with friends stand out, mostly because they saw something in me that was not admirable and told me about it and walked with me as i confronted the truth and brought my darkness into the light. those are all times i felt shaped by God.

michele: okay cool. so keep looking for opportunities to do those things. you say you want to be more loving and gentle and honest and light-filled? then keep doing hard things, and not just set a goal to do one hard thing a week, but do them all the time, and make sure you don't leave out the really big ones. in fact, chase after those the most because it sounds like that is where you have the most trouble seeing God.

laura: damn.

and for all her crazy ideas and eight million purses and sugar-crazed (or sugar-free) ways, she was right. is right. so now, as i am two days deep into this new job and wake up before my alarm, as an anxious pit forms in my stomach and i lean into worst-case scenarios and wonder about the future . . . right now, i know that Jesus is with me and i know i can only thrive if i continue to remember that and act accordingly.

i really like this prayer from this brother robert guy who was part of founding the taize community in france . . .

'Christ, Savior of every life, you come to us always
Welcoming you in the peace of our nights, in the
silence of our days, in the beauty of creation, in
the hours of intense inner combat, welcoming
you means knowing that you will be with us in
every situation, always.'

that is a good thing. he is with us now and even always. and with us through every up and down and long, flat road that we can encounter. and in some places, we need to see him especially.

thanks mm.

Monday, September 8, 2008

big-girl clothes

When we were in elementary school, my mom would always take us to get new outfits for the first day of school. Mini shopper that I was, I would spend what seemed like hours scouring the racks for the perfect ensemble. It was such a highlight - thinking through the impression I wanted to make, finding the right accessories, and not giving a moment's thought to how I would look in yearbook photos down the road. Recounting exactly what I chose would be counterproductive, so kindly look away from the sunflower overalls and turquoise peasant blouses and follow me to the moral of the story: Big first days are bolstered by great first-day outfits.

There have been many other big first days since I was in fourth grade, and I have gone shopping with mom for almost every one. It's weird, in some ways, that dressing in new clothes should seem like the best idea for a first day, when these new people have seen virtually none of my wardrobe. Anything I wore would be new to them. But for me, there is something that feels appropriate about greeting a first day somewhere new with a new first-day outfit.

About a week ago, I got a call offering me a job with a PR firm in San Mateo. I start next Monday. So, this weekend, I once more headed to the mall with my mom and picked out a new skirt and top and trousers . . . and while I have yet to decide exactly what I will wear on the first day - aside from the shoes that never fail to inspire great confidence - I loved getting to do with my mom what we have done together for years. Plus, I felt a sense of connection to my eight-year-old self. I might have been in a slightly classier store than Limited Too this time around - i'm not hating on L2 - but I like the idea of a ritual that started so many years ago and for such a different occasion, continuing on now. From preschool to the first day of work at a grown-up job . . .

It's nice to know some things never change.
And nice to know that my style has. At least, no more velvet sunflower overalls.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


I watched Sarah Palin's acceptance speech last night at the Republican National Convention. oh my. She was certainly poised and had a great command of the audience, who were fawning over her. Palin is articulate, witty, and a good dresser - three big plusses in my book.

But . . .

So much of what she said was empty or worse, deceitful. Palin barely mentioned the economy, the war in Iraq, or health care for all of her italk about Obama's lack of substance. She boasted that she had fought against earmarks in Congress, but as governer requested the single largest per capita earmark in U.S. history. She didn't, in fact, say 'no thanks' on the bridge to nowhere until it became clear that it was a nationally unpopular undertaking. she actually called the term "bridge to nowhere" insulting, presumably in reference to the small community of people who lived on the island to which the bridge was being built. this is what they mayor of Ketchikan, the town that would have been the starting point of the bridge, had to say:

"People are learning that she pandered to us by saying, 'I'm for this' ... and then when she found it was politically advantageous for her nationally, abruptly she starts using the very term that she said was insulting,"
Weinstein said.

Her critique of Barack Obama was so familiar - it would be refreshing to hear either side come up with new takes on old issues, or new criticims altogether, which is another sign this campaign has gone on too long - and simultaneously vitriolic and mean-spirited that it was almost painful to watch at times. While i understand the strategy of pointing out your opponent's perceived weaknesses and shortcomings, she seemed to get a great deal of pleasure from tossing pointed barbs at Obama. Her dig about his parting the waters? About the presidential seal that his campaign designed for him? Her insults hurled about not only his job as a community organizer but all community organizers? I mean, really?

I think Andrew Romano from Newsweek said it best:

It was short on specifics substance-free. It was largely negative--and while sarcasm works in the moment, it tends to curdle as time goes by. And many of its assaults on Obama's record were misleading.

I'm hopeful that the rhetoric can become increasingly issues-based. Hopeful, but not expectant.
And ready for the upcoming debates . . .

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

non sequitor

is it just me, or does betsey johnson (below) look more and more like suzanne somers every day?