Collection of moments, January 2015

If they were butterflies, I’d want to pin them in an archival frame:

Little Man’s dimples, pursed smile as he calculates a climb to the pantry shelf to get the chocolate chip container. “Just one, mama,” and upon opening it, “Just a few.”

The morning January light–the pale, farm fresh eggshell white

Reading Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail in bits and spurts

Dinner with my littles, which involves someone getting up from the table every 2 minutes

“We were talking our heads off,” said Baby Girl, about her gal pal date to paint-your-own-pottery

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The old man asking me what LinkedIn was

Stressing at the roller-rink because I was solo parenting and the single mom consoling me

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Paying a heavy penance for sulking over my mom’s clothing purchases for me as a tween as I console a bawling daughter over my unacceptable purchase(s) for her wardrobe

The assuring sound of Loverpants’ scooter buzzing up the driveway, once again safely home

Car-dancing to Uptown Funk

Loverpants doing yoga in the living room

Taking grading breaks with another Vivianna makeup tutorial

Watching all the old timey movies on Netflix, Amazon Prime

Monday Morning QB-ing about “Serial” with the internets

Getting schooled in millennialism by Olaore, Garrison via text

Praying circles around my kids and our famiLee with a whole new purpose, or at least wanting a clearer purpose

2015-01-04 15.32.32

 

 

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Way recommending: “Who’s Picking Me Up from the Airport?”

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I am an unlikely audience member for Who’s Picking Me Up from the Airport?: And Other Questions Single Girls Ask and for this reason, I read it with great relish. What I hadn’t anticipated is how much I would enjoy it and, moreover, how much I would have needed it!

This book is effectively an encouragement for Christian women who are single and age 30+. These women are single not due to widowhood or separation/divorce but because they are still seeking a life’s partner. Still seeking–that’s the error in the perception as the book readily points out. Author Cindy Johnson lays bare what a raw deal single women, especially those in the Church, are given. Ever being postured as not quite whole, their lives not fully realized because they are not yet paired off with someone–we have done a terrible job of ministering to singles and focusing for way too long on their relationship status. The chapter that spoke most into my heart was “Call It What It Is: Why Being Single is Lame” where Johnson offers a “what not to say” to one’s single friends. I have been the offender in almost every one of the points offered. Points. Well. Taken!

The book is not long–150 pages and it is organized in a brilliant way that reads easily, like a memoir. Johnson pairs her own anecdotes as well as letters from her single friends, both male and female, who share their stories in dating and seasons of singledom. Johnson discusses so many beautiful aspects of the single life and how rich it is, but she also shares her journey through relationships that she had expected to turn out otherwise. Her voice is delightful, not just in contrast to the voice one might expect from a non-fiction book on dating and the single life. Johnson’s tone is consistently sincere and funny and she pulls no punches. This book is a gift and I believe that it would be a great gift for a friend, an addition to a pastor’s bookshelf, and would be a great women’s book club pick.

***

*Johnson and I have gotten acquainted through our mutual literary agent. I received a free copy of this book in advance with no expectation of review or endorsement.

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The Gym Shorts I Borrowed – Part II

(cont. from Part I)

The Lost and Found box in the school dispensary is a moldy mountain of polyester uniform pieces and orphaned mittens.
The mother superior of the dispensary, Mrs. Whittaker, doles out Ritalin, reads thermometers, and is the gatekeeper of the Lost and Found.

“Do those shorts have your name on them?”

“No.”

I was honest.

“Frost*,” is permanent markered onto the waistband of the shorts in question. Frost as in Tim Frost, then in the 6th grade and also our community newspaper delivery boy.

“Okay, then you have to bring them back after class,” said Mrs. Whittaker.

So I do. I arrive to school on gym day and scavenge through the moldy abyss for the Frost pair. They are kind of blousy but at least they cannot be mistaken for a bandana. I rock them for an hour of dodgeball and then return them to being lost. Why I don’t just cross out “Frost” and write my own name on them, I cannot say. Just a rule-follower I guess.

And then there was the matter of how I had stapled my hand to a bulletin board in 4th grade and Mrs. Whittaker rode in like a hero, extracting the staple from my hand using her long sculpted fingernails. I just imagine those fingernails every time I think about claiming the borrowed shorts as my own.

Week after week I do the dumpster dive for the shorts and then I put them back. The shorts never get washed the whole year. I see Tim Frost on the school bus everyday; monthly he rides his mountain bike to our house to collect the $2.25 for his paper route. I fumble around our change drawer, searching for the quarters, feeling equal parts shame and kinship toward him. I am finding and using the clothes that he probably has no idea he has lost.

GYM

For all I know, there are others who were, too. The lost and found box is equal opportunity, after all. Gross.

Image from page 41 of "U and I" (1921)

In the usual end-of-year mayhem, I muster up the moxie to just not return the shorts. I keep them for all of 8th grade. To spite my mother, I never change the name on the shorts. With each load of uniform laundry, I hope that the jock itch will be washed out of the shorts and a sense of guilt will wash over my mother. (Mom, I am so sorry you had to raise satan’s spawn.)

Several years later, I will ask Tim Frost to a school dance. My mom tells me to go vacuum out the mini-van before I pick him up as my date. We have already shared gym shorts, I think. I don’t think he’s going to be scandalized by a leftover juicebox in our van.

Every day is a holy day of obligation in my family: obligations to help, to not complain, to eat everything on one’s plate. The gym shorts, I know, were an opportunity for me to suffer in silence. Just like my mom did when she was my age and her mother gave her a bad home perm. Just like my dad did when his own father died and his mother couldn’t afford anything but an ill-fitting blazer for school. I know the consequences of complaining: I will be met by these stories of my parents’ woeful adolescences. There are penances for every misdeed and an accompanying sense of guilt over which one will stew for a long shameful season.

In this way, I feel as though my upbringing well prepared me to be the daughter-in-law of Korean immigrants. Korean culture, like many cultures infused with Confucian values, deals in a currency of honor, indebtedness and strength. My parents never coddled us and rarely indulged us. They provided for us, but we were forever in a position to be more grateful and to show a stronger sense of duty. The stories of the people my parents served in their workplaces were sobering: families ripped apart by drugs, Social Security benefits extorted from the mentally retarded, children abused and neglected and handed over to the state foster system. Someone always had things way worse. So be grateful. Buck up. Go put on your gym shorts and come back when you have a real problem.

*names changed to protect the innocent

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