Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Zack's 27th birthday is tomorrow. Twenty-seven . . . places you on the early end of your late twenties which, honestly, still sounds older to me than I have any business being. Luckily, I've got a year and a half to go before that existential crisis.

Tonight we went out for a family dinner to celebrate Zack (We couldn't go tomorrow because my MOM is going to HANA with my BROTHER, but that's another story and clearly I'm above being bitter). While we were out, I kept looking at this man across the table from me (to clarify: it was Zack), thinking about what it must have been like for his parents to hold him when he was born, for him to start elementary school and play football in junior high and start college in Santa Barbara and get married. The parents who knew him from the day he was born until now, who have loved him so dearly, who have become such wonderful in-laws . . . what is it like to see your child grow up?

I don't know what it's like, but I do know that times like this make me feel exceptionally nostalgic. When we woke up this morning, I told Zack that it was his last day of being twenty-six. He shrugged it off pretty quickly--it's just another day.

My mom always used to say that to me on the day before my birthday, reminding me that another year had passed and I was moving on to a new and unknown stage of life. Neurotic kid that I was, it used to kind of freak me out. What had I done with my life at 9? At 12? Couldn't I have done more? Look at Haley Joel Osment, I would think, he's a star!

I would get so mad at my mom for saying this -- not because of my neuroses, though they existed, but because I am such an intensely nostalgic person that the thought of any time of life slipping away is enough to make me tear up and wish for the days when everything was simpler. (When that was, I don't know.) Even at 11 and 12 years old, I would regret that I had to gain another year, would wish that I could stay the age that I was forever. As I moved on to college and four years of uncertainties, that sense deepened all the more.

Now I see the lovely parts of moving on, of getting older, of going through life experiences that enrich and bolster us and give us a wealth of knowledge to draw on. This is good. But there will always be something about the past, about the way things were, that calls to me in its way. The falling asleep in the backseat of the car, flushed and mouth open, getting carried into the house on a warm southern California night. The fireflies signaling the arrival of the evening in Hoffman Estates, the drive to Kaitlin's house on White Willow Bay, the things that I will never do again, at least never in the same way, the things that used to be as familiar as my face in the mirror or the back of my hand, things I can still retrace behind my eyelids but the outline is all that remains. I want those things back, now. I want the feelings that they made me feel, but have to take what I have -- the memory that still lingers, the sounds and smells and sights that trigger what the past-tenses remind me. What was, what I knew, what I had, who we were.

So, happy birthday Zack. Thank you for living in this moment and teaching me about the sweet beauty that I can only find now. And while I celebrate that with you, I celebrate who you have been, what you have learned, what you have known, and how you are becoming even more the best man I know.

(P.S. - In case you were wondering, it looks like Haley Joel was arrested for a DUI and drug possession, starred in a Broadway play with Cedric the Entertainer, and graduated from Tisch. Don't say you weren't curious.)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

I never grew up wondering what the position of women in the church should be. Never was part of a church that relegated women to the nursery or planning potlucks or singing; in fact, the thought of a place like that, were it not for the conservative and complementarian churches that I read about or have friends who attend, would be foreign to me. It is astonishingly sad to think of our churches without the contributions of women in leadership -- a Willow Creek without the remarkable programming of Nancy Beach, Menlo Park Pres without the leadership development skills of Nancy Ortberg. These places would be so much poorer without these women, would be a shadow of what they could be.

Yet there are so many people and churches in existence who would have them stay at home with their children while their husbands were tasked with finding jobs and providing for their families. Without even entering into the conversation about the kind of pressure this puts on men, what a tragedy this is for the women whose spiritual gifts, should they fall too closely to leadership or teaching, must be ignored and caused to wither. What a loss for the Kingdom of God!

One of the greatest gifts that my father ever gave me, in retrospect, is his commitment to women in leadership. When I was eighteen, we moved from Chicago to Northern California. There was a church in southern California that had offered him a position as well - a good church, with good people, who were immobile about their commitment to maintaining a male-only teaching staff and elder board. So we didn't go. And I think it would have been easy for him, or for lots of males in his position, to ignore it. To not think about what this meant for his daughters, or his wife, or any other woman. But his commitment to women in leadership, in part, told me that I could use my gifts of leadership. His decision was an enormous, if unwitting, gift to me - because it contained a commitment to the truth of Galatians 3:28, and because it contained a commitment to me. I am so grateful to my father for that decision, to my mother for exercising her enriching gift of leadership, to a God who sustains them both.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

All I want.

There are only two foods I really want when I'm sick (apart from peanut butter toast, which I want every day of the year regardless of how I'm feeling):

1. Stouffer's macaroni and cheese

2. Tombstone extra cheese pizza

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

And the Oscar goes to . . .

Where to start? It felt like a somewhat mediocre ceremony this year -- a crazy acceptance speech here, a stoned-looking host there, but nothing too wild to speak of. Even Helena Bonham Carter looked like a Normal Person. (Note: Further research has revealed that she was wearing a flag with the Union Jack strapped to her thigh. Thank the Good Lord!) Where were the mismatched shoes? The bodysuits or the headdresses or the on-stage ensemble numbers? The whole thing, from start to finish, was vaguely 'meh.'

(If nothing else, the evening DID yield one of my all-time favorite Oscar looks. More on that later . . . )

The first one on the red carpet was Jennifer Lawrence who, really, has come out of nowhere this year to be such a red carpet treat (and no, "treat" isn't some kind of euphemism.). It seemed kind of boring at first, like a classier, dress-length version of the Baywatch swimsuits. And when Ryan Seacrest asked her who had designed it, she couldn't remember Francisco Costa's last name, so I was yelling it at the TV which made me look like a damn fool.

But it grew on me! Really. She pulled off the 'I-just-came-from-the-beach' look better than most, and I think the way she carries herself helps a lot. I didn't want to pull her dress up or mess with her hair--it's just a lovely, simple, California Girl look, and what event is more California than the Oscars?

If you start to type "Helen Mirren" into Google, the first autofill option that comes up is "Helen Mirren is so hot." Remember the bikini shot heard 'round the world? She's worn some weird stuff in her day, but she's lived through World War II, so you've gotta give her that. I think she looked lovely on Sunday night--almost demure, but glamorous at the same time. Her hair, her jewelry, the dress, all in such good taste. It's not even a case of "She looks good for her age." She just looks good, period.


The only thing I like about this whole outfit are her shoes. As a fellow redhead, I have a lot invested in Nicole's success. She gives us someone to aspire to, someone besides Kathy Griffin or Jessica Rabbit. And some of her fashion choices are, in my mind, inspired (see previous post).

But this one! As my friend Jess pointed out, it looks like it could have easily come straight from your local Jessica McClintock. It's way too stark white for her most people, let alone someone with her fair skin tone. Her ponytail is kind of cute, but her bangs are woefully insufficient and her choker just reminds me of an American Girl doll. And the weird hip juts that cascade into a big ribbon . . . just not doing it for me.

Okay. This one. I LOVE this color on her. Love the cut of the dress, the train, the jewelry. Even the butt pleats, which I am normally anti-, somehow worked on this one.


Can we talk about the boobs? (I've just spent five minutes typing boob jokes here, and Zack reminded me that you guys probably don't want to read them. GOSH.) They just look . . . flat. Pancaked. Distributed. And I can't imagine that's what she was going for, but it was such a noticeable side effect of the gown that I also can't imagine she wasn't aware of it.

The dress was so close to a total victory, but I think the smooshed cleavage sort of ruined it for me.

This is probably going to stir up some controversy (for you five readers), but:


Yes, the pleats look like a coffee filter. Yes, there is a picture-frame sized cutout in the middle of her chest. Yes, it is a little bit weird. But it is so RIGHT on her. It has something totally iconic about it, in my mind - I don't know if it's the kooky sleeves or the color combination, but this is one for the books. She looks elegant and lovely, but also fashion-forward, which isn't easy to do, and the structure at the top of the dress balances beautifully with the ladylike bottom. If Givenchy made it in white, I'd probably make Zack get married again.

Camilla Alves (Mrs. Matthew McConaughey, but not really Mrs.).
IT HAS POCKETS. Pockets! In that gown! It feels like the love child of January Jones' Golden Globes dress and the full skirts that Katharine Hepburn was known for: super feminine, probably fairly comfortable, super functional, and Old-Hollywood-glamourous. She looks stunning, not to mention that her boobs are holding up pretty well on their own here. Her clean hair and simple jewelry only add to it, really. And did I mention the pockets?!


I am a little bit obsessed with her. I haven't seen Black Swan, so that shouldn't sound too dirty. Really, though, her career is so fascinating. She's on "That 70s Show" for what seems like nineteen years. She voices a cartoon character on "Family Guy." She dates Macaulay Caulkin who, you know, hasn't won any awards for being normal lately. And she looks like this! If I were to guess what she would look like based on all of the above, I would have gone in a different direction.

The dress is lovely. I think Monique Lhullier designed it, which makes sense because my only beef with it is that it looks a little Bridal. But other than that, I think she looks beautiful and feminine and the draping is super pretty and even the boob things are kind of growing on me.

. . . and then, there was THIS. It's like the top of her dress vomited out the tulle-encrusted bottom, and then vacuumed her in super tight to make sure that none of it could ever reach the top again. I mean, HONESTLY -- who told her this was a good idea? In a year of mostly non-superlatives, this is certainly one of the most spectacularly awful dresses I've seen.

To be perfectly honest, I don't really know much about Florence Welch besides that super catchy song and that she has a great colorist. But now I can add to that list: She only owns ONE dress. She has a very talented tailor that she keeps in her closet at home, and in between award shows she throws the dress in to her and yells "SEW!" And the tailor, swimming in a sea of discarded lace and ivory fabric, sews until her little hands bleed while Florence looks on with her one facial expression and yells "BIRDS! TIERS! THE DOG DAYS ARE OVER!"

Honorable mentions to: Reese Witherspoon's ponytail, Natalie Portman, HALLE.

Meh mentions: Hilary Swank.

Dishonorable: Melissa Leo's macrame gown (and her acceptance speech, which was CRAZY!), Marissa Tomei's weird fishtail of a dress, Gwyneth's performance, James Franco's hosting.

Here's hoping that next year gives us some more interesting material to work with, or that something crazy happens, or someone goes up in flames or punches Tom Hanks or makes out with Justin Bieber backstage. Fingers crossed!