And many more.

I have a love / hate relationship with Tupperware. I love it, because Tupperware means delicious leftovers, but I hate it, because who likes to wash dishes anyways.

Cooking for myself this semester has been an adventure. How much effort I put in depends on how much time I have, although lately I’ve noticed myself putting off homework so I can stand around and cook. There’s something soothing about it; intentionally taking time out of my day to do something good for myself. I don’t do that often.

I’m in a nutrition class this semester, too, which has made me hyper-aware of what I eat and drink. Add to it the fact that I’m shopping for and buying my own groceries… I’ve been kind of neurotic about food this past month. It’s given me time though to realize what I like, want, and need, and I think that’s good for me.

Right now I have casserole in the oven and it smells delicious. This is one of the few recipes that I’ve actually followed; normally I like to try to make stuff up, and it usually doesn’t work all that well. My nutrition book says that when people cook their own food, they tend to eat less, for a variety of reasons. I don’t think that’s true in my case. I’m all like “Shoot this is delicious and I made it myself… lets celebrate with seconds.”

I appreciate what I eat, now, from pb&j’s to peanut chicken stir-fry. I appreciate the effort, and the fact that I can eat what I like. “…It returns me to myself to shop for food, to wander through the produce section, to was hand chop vegetables, to heat garlic and broth, to taste the sharpness of cheddar on whole grain bread. ” (Exodus- Cold Tangerines) Shauna Niequist is a brilliant writer and someday I’d like to put my thoughts into words the way she does.  She talks a lot about food and cooking and how important an act it is to cook for someone, and to cook good food for yourself.

It nourishes you, body and soul. One of my favorite points she makes is this: “There’s still a big story, disguised as just regular life, and the big story is about love and death and God, and about bread and wine and olives, about forgiveness and hunger and freedom, about all the things  we dream about, and all the things we handle and hold.” The things we make and eat and touch and throw and hold are all telling a story, and some days we forget to see the big picture for all the minutiae in our lives, and other days we can’t focus in on the little, beautiful gifts we receive every day.

I’m going home to celebrate my brother’s birthday this weekend. For a few hours, everything will be right with the world; all the ice cream and the steak, and the hugs and songs. It’s all telling a story, a big story, but I’m going to dwell on the little things. Like guacamole and bananas on the sideboard and a warm cup of tea and my mom booing the Patriots and the fire in the fireplace and the cat on the windowsill.

Indistinct

I think I’ve gotten less than 8 hours of sleep in the past two days combined. Hoorah.

This semester is going to be so intense. My senior research project (“What’s Your Power Hour?” a study on the effects of time of day on exercise performance) started last week and I’m just going to go ahead and whine about how early I get up. I know, 7:30 isn’t terrible twice a week. It’s the staying up until 1:30 the night before for Ultimate practice that does it. I’m really excited, though, to see what we find out. This week wraps up the first round of tests, and we move on to our next set on Monday. It’s taught me a lot about being flexible, working with other people who aren’t as invested in something as I am, and how to write a semi-professional email REALLY fast.

Also, last week, I started my internship! I’m with the Training Center this semester, an after school program for some Marion kids, kindergarten through 7th grade, I think. I’m mostly with the 3-4th grade girls. I go in twice a week and there’s a chunk of recreation time that, as I get more used to the whole program, I’ll be leading. It’s so great to be around kids again. They’re so funny, and I forgot how quickly little kids form relationships. I’m thankful for that. The other volunteers there are really cool. One of them, Kinsey, who I’ve been informally shadowing, is such a great teacher. I start tripping over my words and concepts and she steps in with an awesome example and hands-on activity.

Ultimate finally kicks off this weekend for real with our first tournament, in Alabama, T-Town Throwdown. We’ll finally have our whole (almost…) team and our new coach, Joey, is coming with us too. I’m excited to see how our team develops and grows through this. Also, apparently we’re making dinner for ourselves. So that will be an adventure.

I’m exhausted. So here are some other people’s words that I really like.

“Sometimes I can feel my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living.”
—Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

“‘Dear God,’ she prayed, ‘let me be something every minute of every hour of my life.’”
—Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”
—John Steinbeck, East of Eden

“We cross our bridges as we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and the presumption that once our eyes watered.”
—Tom Stoppard, Rosencratz and Guildenstern Are Dead

“I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded; not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up, and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night.”
—Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner

And my personal, forever favorite

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
–F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

If you have a second, check this out. Andy is a good friend and teammate of mine, and he has meant so much to me over the past year and a half. He has so much passion and drive, and a story that gets at my heart. He’s a guy that I’m proud to know and call a friend.

Catch you on the flip side!

Two Things.

First thing: I’ve really been passionate lately about the idea of “your story.” Whether people know it or not, they have a specific way they like to tell their story. In writer lingo, it’s the “voice” of their life. I have a distinct “voice,” and only I can tell my story right because I tell it in my “voice.” When I tell stories to a certain sibling, I tell it exactly one way, and when I talk to my best friend, I tell the story in exactly another way.

I’m not sure that made any sense. Anyway, the point is that, though some people may like it, most people would prefer to tell their own story in their own voice. And we should let them. Sure there’s a time for the real story to come out without bias, but there’s also time for understanding someone in their own way.

Second thing: this past weekend was the Camp T summer staff reunion, and as always, it was a blast. We talked about how we could change summer camp for the better, in so many ways. One of the sessions ended up being about responsibility, basically, and how we could get the kids to really “own” camp. I liked that one. Dave Wright, the old CEO, modeled responsibility every time he stepped outside, always finding a piece of trash to throw away. That’s a resounding image that a lot of us will hold on to forever, and hopefully begin to model for our own campers.

I got to see a lot of my favorite people in the world, but the brightest minutes of the weekend were when Brody was around. Last summer, after trainings, we were in separate villages so I didn’t get to see Brody a lot, but whenever we ran into each other on lake road or in Main Field, he gave the best hugs.  He was in top form this weekend, coming up with brilliant thoughts like “What would human Bop-It look like?” (hint: hysterical, competitive, and totally doable. New camp game?) and “Can you imagine if someone was late to the Last Supper?” (“Freaking Judas, I’m going to die tomorrow and he can’t even be here on time??? I told you guys 6 o’clock, right?”) Things of that nature.

After people had started leaving, a handful of us were sitting around a table in the fellowship room and, out of the blue, Brody goes “Did you guys know, it was shameful to run back in Bible days? So like when the Prodigal son’s father ran to meet him, he just stopped caring about what everyone else thought?” Then Scotty D told us the origin of the phrase “gird up your loins, how to gird up our loins, and why they had to “gird up their loins” (they couldn’t run in those big old skirts anyways.) They painted a picture for me of an old man, his robe wrapped up like a diaper, running down a road, probably tackling his son into the ground in his joy.

Everybody always goes on about how we are to chase after God and “dance like David danced.” So true. I’m a fan of dancing, and I love David’s attitude. I’ve been there. When you’re feeling so on top of the world and blessed that you can’t stand still.

But I love the other image that Brody gave me; of a God who’s so excited and in love that he’s willing to look like a fool, just for us.

Everybody’s doing it.

When I asked her what I should blog about tonight, Maria told me I should write about the holidays because “all the bloggers seem to be doing it.” So with that advice in mind, I’m going to talk a little bit about home.

I’m home, right now. On a trundle-bed, which is different. It’s tilted on one side, so I always wake up just about to fall off the bed. Lydia is going to move in Friday night when she gets home (happy birthday, by the way!), which means that the already messy roomy is going to be a pit. Seriously there is so much crap in here. But there’s so much good, too. There’s stacks of books and notebooks and piles of pens and pencils and empty mugs with little tea bag tags dangling out of them. It feels like there are ideas and thoughts just floating around, barely out of reach, and if you stretched far enough, you’d be able to grab one and run with it.

There’s something peaceful about routine. “Okay, yeah duh,” I hear you say. Fine. I think of when change happens, when I’m put in a new situation, in a new environment where I don’t have my bearings yet. My solution? Make my bed. Camp, school, a friend’s house, staff retreats, hotels; For me, there’s something grounding about putting a sheet on, laying down a pillow, and spreading a blanket, that helps me feel at peace. It’s the first step to setting down roots, I guess. It gives my hands something to do while my brain freaks out.

At Camp, my true home, I have to make my bed. It’s a natural motion that gets me moving and thinking and remembering that “yes, I want to be here. No, I’m not going to back out.” Those crazy little butterflies in my stomach take a break for a minute and then by the time I’ve finished, someone new has joined or an old friend has come in whooping and screaming (no exaggeration.)

I guess… I don’t know. Home looks different at different points of our lives. Even the same building grows memories and develops quality as time goes by. I feel sometimes like I have to make my bed over and over again, and it gets kind of tiresome. But at the same time, it’s an adventure. And not just in the blanket fort and pillow fights way.

Cookies

Ever wanted to try to give a fresh perspective on something that has been beaten to death already? Like, chocolate chip cookies. Everything that can be said about chocolate chip cookies has already been said. Seriously. NPR did an article on the science behind the perfect chocolate chip cookie. There’s really nothing left to be said.

But sometimes you have an experience with a chocolate chip cookie that just blows your mind. Like “dang. that was the best chocolate chip cookie ever and i have to tell someone about it. but they’ll just be like ‘oh yeah i’ve had one of those too’ and they won’t understand how deeply that cookie impacted me. how do i describe my experience with the most amazing chocolate chip cookie ever to them?”

It takes you a while to find the perfect words to describe that dang cookie. And you really can’t even capture what that cookie meant to you in that sentence. You just kind of scratch the surface. This sentence didn’t accurately describe how you really felt about the cookie, while that sentence has been written a hundred times before. So usually you settle for an okay sentence, or sometimes you give up entirely. And you know, that’s okay. The struggle is real, my friends. Life is really just a rough draft, after all.

Lately, my “chocolate chip cookie” has been the goodbye. People wander in and out of our lives often. Some matter and some don’t as much. Today while we were cleaning for break, my housemate’s boyfriend wondered aloud what life would be like if every time we said goodbye, we said it like this was really our last time seeing each other. Pretty melodramatic.

Growing up at Camp taught me a lot about saying goodbye, about the tenuous nature of life. You make a best friend by Thursday and then on Saturday, they’re gone. We never knew if the counselors that befriended us would be back the next summer. We had a really fast turnover rate, but we learned how to remember and move on. It doesn’t make saying goodbye any easier, but I cope better after. Some days.

Some days I don’t do so well. Some days, life just isn’t fair and the good ones are taken from us too soon and the universe throws fun little surprises at us and we’re left silent, our cheers and excitement echoing away into the walls. Some how, we have to learn how to move on. We have to laugh at our own jokes and beatbox to our own music.

My goal in life is to write that sentence. That sentence that captures that chocolate chip, perfectly, in its entirety.

When I do, I’ll let you know.

For Andy.

After all, you’re my Wonderwall

I’ve decided that I’m never going to turn down the chance for a road trip (you know, as long as I don’t have any prior commitments…) again. In the past few years at school, mostly with the team, I’ve spent hours and hours staring out the windows of a car. Usually right side up, sometimes upside down, rarely through the front window.

We never really used to go on trips as a family; its hard to get 7 kids in the van, let alone 7 happy kids in the van. The furthest that we ever traveled was up to Minnesota, in a twelve passenger van. Somehow we survived and lived to tell the tale. Maybe it was the fact that we already knew everything about each other already, or that we knew how to push each others buttons. Than again, maybe it was the screaming 4 year old in the back seat. Traveling with the family just wasn’t the greatest. It was fun, but nothing to write home about.

Manchester University isn’t that far from IWU; less than an hour drive, in fact. That’s the first car trip I remember with the Ultimate team. It was the day after our tournament in Marion, and we only had 6 people going. We were all exhausted. We rolled up and down a small hill into some town on the way there, and on the way back, we talked about how many kids we wanted and what we would name them.

Over the next 3 years, 55 minutes has turned into 3 hours, and into 6 and 8 and even 12. Every single hour has been worth it. Even driving back to IWU at 6 in the morning after staying up all night was so fun (Matt yelled about football ALL THE WAY BACK TO SCHOOL.) The 24 hour jaunt to Georgia and back has made every trip since seem like child’s play.

Driving at night is probably my favorite part. By that  time, everyone has settled in and gotten comfortable. People’s impedimenta is everywhere, as is the conversation. It’s like time travel, or something. Its dark, and we can’t see where we are or where we’re going, and as the seatbelts come off and the van becomes less like van and more like a living room, we lose track of time. And when we wake up the next day, we’re in a completely different place. It’s the best kind of magic.

Once, on the way to Pittsburgh (my favorite trip) we started talking about God and what we believe about the Holy Spirit and His gifts and how the world came to be and how God is invested in our lives and, you know, those things that people get really fired up about. These experiences make me so thankful for where I am in life and who is around me because of the perspective they give me. If I didn’t know these guys, I would look at them and see jocks. But they talk about God and how they understand the world and I am so humbled and blessed.

And then a truck came by, pulling a Delorean, and it took us 10 minutes to get back on topic.

Why do I love road trips?

On the way back from Georgia, every radio station that we drove through played this song. As the Tennessee rain fell, drumming on the windows, Matt drowsed off on one side of me and Andy crooned softly along with the music.

There’s something peaceful about just existing, just being, in your own little world, as the rest of the world rolls by.

Find a car, find a friend. Turn on some music. Talk, or don’t talk. Whatever. Hit the road and make a memory.

All the roads we have to walk are winding.

Coming to you live from DeMoss Acres, it’s the Wednesday night blog!

I honestly don’t have a lot to say tonight. Being home is awesome.

Some thoughts on being home:

1-It’s a lot like what I imagine British Parliament to be: you drink tea while a bunch of morons run around, doing who knows what.

2- Pancakes are better hot off the griddle, even if that means getting up at 7 am.

3- Sitting in the living room without the t.v. on is usually as funny as sitting the the room with the t.v. on.

4- Cold pizza=breakfast of champions.

*unless a sibling picks the pepperoni slices off

5- Contrary to popular opinion, family game night does not always have to devolve into fights. Fun fact.

Listen to this.

I have a love-hate relationship with this song. There have been some times when it’s really meant something to me, and other times when it just brings up a lot of bad memories. God is a God of order, and a lot of times, that order is a good thing. But at the end of the day, so few of us have a big capacity for hope anymore. We forget that good things can spring up on us as quickly as the bad, and that if we actually put some effort in, things turn out pretty all right.

“[Gatsby had] an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again.”  – The Great Gatsby