What was I thinking?

It was Friday evening, the 5th of July. Frustrated by a house that was a little too humid and clothes that were a little too sticky, I decided to go for a walk down to Boswell Book Company and the adjoining Starbucks and see if I couldn’t get some writing done there. I had high hopes. Surely a change of venue would jump-start my pen.

I load up my purse with a pen and notepad, and the magazine I’m currently reading, Taproot. The great writing in it had inspired me already, and just in case I couldn’t get anything written, there was no reason I couldn’t just sit and read. I walked due east and ordered a Cool Lime Refresher. I get out my pen and just sit. Here’s what happens.

***

StarbucksSitting here at the Starbucks on the corner of Downer and Webster. This may not be the most pretentious place on a street full of pretentious little shops, but it’s close. The weather’s nice enough that hardly anyone is here, and with three baristas, there’s literally one for every two patrons. I wonder what type of manager made this scheduling decision? I also wonder what makes the staff here think there’s nothing to do, despite the lack of patrons? But I’m not here to do a review.

I’m here to write. Or so I thought. The music is just loud enough to be distracting and the lack of customers makes every whir and grind, every tap and clatter wincingly loud. I know I’m being unfair. It’s a coffee shop, not my home office. But the house seemed stifling this afternoon; too humid to be comfortable. There are outdoor tables, also mostly empty, that I could go sit at. But, somehow, noticing the regular passage of cars, I know it won’t be any better.

There’s a man at a long table in front of me. From my perch on a high stool by a wall, I can easily watch him studying. His pencils and highlighters threaten to roll off the edge, though he’s careful to keep them corralled by his cell phone and wallet. Several sets of loose papers make up the outbuildings of this intellectual ranch. Another man is at the counter overlooking the street. He, too, is elbow deep in the tools of academia.Boswell 1

For the life of me, I don’t know how they do it. I certainly can’t. I pick up my drink and head back to the bookstore.

There’s a thousand reasons why I can’t write in a bookstore. Maybe ten thousand, or even more. They call out to me from the shelves, from the tables, from the racks. Cover art or only spines, it doesn’t matter. Moleskine black books and pads of artsy-fartsy Post-It notes. Pens, stationery, bookmarks, tote bags. An old man chuckles over greeting cards while two women compare notes on short story writers. The in-store stereo plays jazz and the low moans from a subdued saxophone and the subtle buzz of brushes on a snare tickle my eardrums just enough.

There are no tables here, and I’m forced to balance my notebook on my lap. The scuffed leather sofas are empty, and except for the one I’m sitting in, all the cloth chairs are too. You’d think it would be easy to write in an atmosphere so congenial to the written word, but it’s not.

I pick up my things yet again, and go outdoors. I guess I’ll just head back to the house.

***

Marybelle AptsHeading West down Bellevue I passed Henry’s. Already noisy, though it was still light out, one table of elderly German-speaking men were laughing uproariously over some joke and nearly spilling their pilsners in the process of back-slapping each other. They were viewed disdainfully by a nearby table of young women who were clearly pondering whether to move to a different area.

I continued to the next block where a large, multi-apartment home sported three young man lounging on a balcony. Their music was loud enough that I’m sure the other residents had neither need nor ability to play their own stereos. It’s a good thing I was walking, because there was no way I could get any writing done in that environment.

Just before crossing Maryland, I noticed a young couple kissing on the stoop of the Marybelle apartments. I can’t remember the last time I was that oblivious to anything but…uh…the matter at hand. Or at lips, as the case may be.

Stopping at Maryland for a police cruiser, sirens screaming, I wondered what on earth could be the matter. Despite its being a Friday night, the streets were oddly empty. Everyone is probably at Summerfest, I remembered.

I continued back to the house, and while I unlocked the door, I laughed to myself. It was a beautiful night. I had the house to myself and I could put the air conditioning on if I wanted to. Maybe I’d play around on the internet.

I don’t know what made me think I’d get any writing done.

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Five Favorites: Volume 1

Five Favorites Moxie Wife“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens…” Those were certainly Maria’s favorites, and while I’m not saying they’re not adorable, I’ve got some other things in mind.

This week I’m linking up with a delightful blog called Moxie Wife for a little doo-dad she calls “Five Favorites.”

And away we go, though not necessarily in order of favoritism!

1. Antique holy cards.

Holy family Turgis 1040

I can’t get enough of them, and really, how can that be a sin?
The site for this card is here!

2. Best parody song video. Ever.

Russian Unicorn

Look, I love me some Michael Bublé, but this is a scream.
You know it’s great when Mr. Bublé himself loves it. Watch this!

3. Saint Thérèse of Lisieux

Therese of Lisieux as Jeanne d'Arc

Oh, she’s just the best. If you don’t like her, it’s only because you don’t know her.
This picture shows her dressed as Jeanne d’Arc.

4. My utterly brilliant daughter, Sophia

gardening 008

Choosing her name was easy.
It had to have significant religious meaning,
and be suitable for a Supreme Court Justice.

5. Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book

Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book Updated Version

The only bread-making book you’ll really ever need.

Five Minute Friday: Ordinary

Brine shrimp. Laboratory picture

Brine shrimp. Laboratory picture (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I noticed it this morning when I was taking a shower. Yeah, that’s pretty ordinary, taking a shower. Unless you have no running water.

Ordinary is all a matter of perspective. What you think is ordinary is hardly what’s ordinary to someone else. My ordinary isn’t your ordinary.

When my daughter was eight or nine we got Sea Monkeys. You know, the all-too-ordinary brine shrimp, packaged to look like the royalty of the undersea realm. Yeah, right. They’re shrimp—and not even edible ones. I warned her, “You do understand, don’t you, that they’re not really going to wear crowns, like this picture shows?” “Yeah, mom, can we make them now?” Five minutes, a jar of water, and the contents of a little plastic packet, and she was in heaven. “Ooohh! Look, they’re swimming! They’re so tiny! Mom, can you see them!?” Yeah, I could see them. But what I saw was brine shrimp. Pretty ordinary. What she saw? Amazing!

***** 5-minute-friday-1

What’s Five Minute Friday?

A blog-prompt project dreamt up by LisaJo Baker, which you can read about here. The skinny is that you spend five minutes of writing, generally unedited (I correct typos, WAY too OCD not to do that, and set up links), on a prompt that she provides just after midnight via a tweet, then spread the word, and link up. Interested? Join up. Check it out.

Pull Your Pants Up!

Out of the Blue ThursdaysI really wasn’t trying to look at his butt. It was hard not to, though, since his pants were practically down to his knees.

This is part of living in a large metro area. There’s a lot of diversity, and, for the most part, I really enjoy it. Among other things, some of what’s covered by the diversity umbrella is apparel and personal style choices. Afros to Pentecostal Poufs, ballet flats to Converse, split tongues and pierced ears, it’s all there. Again, for the most part, I enjoy it. God is creative, and part of being created in God’s image is that we all have some sense of that creativity.

Thankfully, it’s not a super popular trend for young men to wear their pants quite so low, but whether this guy didn’t get the memo, or just decided not to cinch up the string on his baggy sweatpants, he definitely could’ve pulled his pants up a long way. We’re not talking low around the hips, we’re talking half way down his thighs.

Believe me, all this visual took was one half a second from ten feet behind him in the self-checkout lane at a store I don’t usually shop at.

I usually don’t consider myself a flippant pray-er, but it was really hard not to just send up a plaintive mental whining. “Jesus, really, would it be too much to ask for You to please get that guy to pull his pants up.”

And at that very second, the guy grabbed for his wallet, and pulled his pants up! All the way up, and even cinched the drawstring. I was surprised the sound of my jaw hitting the ground didn’t startle him.

I almost did a happy dance, right there in line. Seriously, I laughed. But, you know, under my breath, so he wouldn’t hear me. I mean, there’s no point in gloating.

God is good. All the time. All the time. God is good.

*****

Out of the Blue Thursdays is a group of women who write about surprises in their lives that God has shown them. You can read about it, and join if you’d like, here.

Five Minute Friday: Afraid

5-minute-friday-1Let’s just put the cards on the table right at the beginning and play this hand open, okay? I’m a Christian, and I’m a Catholic (although there’s plenty of people who think that never the twain shall meet, they’re obviously wrong). So, I’ll probably get all up in your face about Jesus, or Mass, or Mary at some point, which you may or may not like. And because of that, you may or may not like me.

That’s the scary part. I’m often afraid that people don’t like me. (I’m actually afraid of a lot of things. Don’t let’s go there, okay?) I’m afraid they’ll think I’m a lunatic who, indeed, would be better served by being on medication. Probably a lot.

But if there’s one thing I’m not afraid of, it’s God. As you can see from my previous post, I’m certainly not afraid to take on the Creator of the Universe in a giant, tear-stained-face, foot-stamping, roll-on-the-floor-in-a-fit-of-toddler-like-temper-tantrum blather that, frankly, often leaves me exhausted.

But then we’re cool.

Because the other thing I’m not afraid of is that He’s going to love me less for it.

Nope.

Not gonna happen.

I posted this on Facebook and Twitter the other day, and I really believe it:

God loves each of us so much. There’s not a single thing you or I can do to make God love us more. Or less. Realizing that will set us free!

*****

What’s Five Minute Friday?

A blog-prompt project dreamt up by LisaJo Baker, which you can read about here. The skinny is that you spend five minutes of writing, generally unedited (I correct typos, WAY too OCD not to do that, and set up links), on a prompt that she provides just after midnight via a tweet, then spread the word, and link up. Interested? Join up. Check it out.

 

What’s Yours?

Calvin and Hobbs ResolutionsEverybody makes ‘em. Nobody keeps ‘em. Yeah. I’m talking about New Year’s resolutions.

You have to admit, they show good intention. People always mention that they want to lose weight, start exercising, manage their budget better, invest wisely, save more money, become a better parent, the lists go on. And on.

Why, honestly, do we bother? I have never yet met a person who made a New Year’s resolution that they managed to keep. Ever. Past February. (If you have, please comment, because I want to arrange a meeting with you and other world leaders.) Given that, I am starting an entirely new style of resolution, which is based on the principal of reverse psychology. It’s a well-known fact that, since the Garden of Eden, people can’t seem to avoid doing either the very thing someone tells them not to do, or just the opposite of what they are supposed to do.

So, my New Year’s Resolutions are as follows:

  • Utterly trash my home and become an unrepentant hoarder;
  • Become a recluse who shuns human contact, especially with my aging parents and any close friends;
  • Gain as much weight as is humanly possible by never cooking or eating anything healthy, let alone by attempting anything that even resembles exercise;
  • Never keep track of appointments or dates and never, ever return phone calls the same day;
  • Avoid anything that smacks of spirituality or any kind of organized religion;
  • Shamelessly prowl Facebook and Twitter All Day Long;
  • Relentlessly pursue anything that might depress me, most notably by staying in bed all day;
  • Spend my money on whimsical items that have no enduring value whatsoever; and
  • Write as little as possible.

I’ll NEVER tell you how that’s going.

There and Back Again, Sort Of

From inside on of the hobbit holes, on locatio...

From inside on of the hobbit holes, on location at the Hobbiton set, as used in the Lord of the Rings films. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mixed emotions would be one way to describe it. Ambivalence would be another.

Yes, we’re going to see Peter Jackson’s rendition of The Hobbit, and I’m a little nervous. No, nervous isn’t really the right word. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I do really want to see the movie, but I’m expecting to be disappointed. Believe me when I say that, having read The Hobbit, I really think there’s no way Peter Jackson can do justice to is, given his reputation. That’s not good. At the same time, this movie (like his previous trilogy covering The Lord of the Rings) will certainly expose more people to J.R.R. Tolkien. That is good. Anything that gets people reading is good.

In a way, what we’re doing is interestingly evocative of The (real) Hobbit. Bilbo was pretty nervous about starting on his journey, and so am I.