Cindy vs. Computer, Finite Mind, Hallmark Channel and Other Things

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Hello…. So I have all these goals that include posting 3 awesomely impressive blogs a week. It hasn’t happened once.  The problem I’m facing this week is spelled out quite literally in my title. My computer has died a slow death. What writer needs one of those? Also, I’m working on my second to the last chapter and I am not creative and/or smart enough to do both blog and book at once. Also, Christmas movies. They are just so wonderful.

One of them actually led me to quite an epiphany. The scene goes man and woman (played by Jesse Spano, might as well be her real name) are on their first date. Both of them are working multiple jobs but have big dreams. In these movies the dreams are ALWAYS the same- eco-friendly architect, owning a small business (think cafe or flower shop), or opening a charming bed-and-breakfast.

Anyway, as the woman chatted passionately about her dream cafe on main street, I realized that she was going to make it! Things weren’t looking good for her, but I new by the end it would all turn around!  (Holiday movies end well every time, typically after things go badly on Thanksgiving. The leads spend Christmas alone and sad only to reunite epically on New Years Eve).  As I sat there, glamorous in my pajama pants and flannel, I realized, and may or may not have said to an empty room, “Me too! I’m living my dream! Right now!”

Broken computer, writers block, and lack of full-time employment in all it’s glory, folks! I’d been so focused on navigating the challenges that I missed the overall picture.  It may not look like much but it all makes me very happy. In this season of thankfulness, I feel truly lucky and blessed to be on this journey and you are the most important part of it.

Thanks for reading, commenting, and supporting me in my own version of a Hallmark classic. I can’t tell you how it feels when one of you says something I’ve written has impacted you, made you think, or encouraged you in some small way. It means more to me then you know! I hope you are going after your dreams in some way, too.  Tell me how or simply what you are thankful for.

Here is my friend Melinda’s blog on going for it.

Wow. Too.Cheesy. I.PROMISE.To.Get.Out.More.

Just as soon as I’ve finished 12 Men of Christmas. Realx. It has like 12 minutes left.

Speaking of dreams, please watch, enjoy, and promptly pass on this video. It’s the holiday dream of my very good friends to go viral and make it on the Ellen show. I recommend watching the whole thing b/c there is animated food at the end. Who doesn’t love that? You should check out Sara’s music and Greg’s writing, too. What a power couple, huh?

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Online Dating: Date #3

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computer flowers

Well, I’ve more than dropped the ball on this one.  Harmony has been kind enough to send me her stories throughout the summer and I’ve neglected to get them up here.  If you remember, her goal was to go on one date a week.  The one below is a good one;)  Enjoy!

“Scott is 37.  Works in pharmaceutical sales.  Lives in Sherman Oaks.  This guy has the most amazing story of how he accepted Christ maybe 8 years ago.  Complete with details of the raunchy Vegas bachelor party hotel room scene that somehow led him to begin his journey with the Gideon Bible.   After we retold our testimonies, discussed family and tragedy we got into the really vulnerable part of the conversation:
 
Me: “So tell me about your job.  Is it like Love and Other Drugs?  (Proud of myself for the cute joke, not really remembering how that movie played out.)
 
Steve: “You know I haven’t seen it, but I definitely don’t drive as nice a car as Jake Gyllenhal.”  (Ok, he’s funny.)
 
Me: “What kind of drugs do you sell?”
 
Steve: “I’m in the men’s health business.”
 
Me: “So like vitamins? ”
 
Steve: “No.” (awkward pause) “I sell ED medication.” (Oh, gotcha!  No need to elaborate.)
 
Steve then leans in because we are in the middle of Yogurtland, 3:30PM on a Saturday afternoon, surrounded by tables of families and young children.  “Erectile dysfunction medication,” Steve whispers. 
 
I KNOW WHAT IT STANDS FOR!!!
 
 
Super nice guy but we both know it’s not going to go anywhere. We didn’t have a whole lot in common in the end.
 
I am learning a few things along the way that I’d like to share.  Ladies, we all have our two or three absolutely perfect outfits.  You know the ones that accentuate all the right parts, smartly hiding all the multiple wrong ones.  Early on I spent a little money on the perfect first date outfit and it has been a good use of money because  I can keep wearing it over and over again since I’m consistently meeting up with new fellows. ”
 

This one needs very little commentary:)  I am noticing that it sounds like a lot of her dates go deep pretty early on.  I’m not used to this and wonder if it is me or a part of online dating.  Is it because the profiles already display a lot of the surface stuff that one might discuss on a first date?  Or are people typically looking for a serious relationship and feel it’s a better use of time to get to the serious stuff?  Anyone care to weigh in that has tried it?

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11
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I’m a little…how to say this… Pinterest obsessed. I find it’s the perfect place to go and waste time while waiting for a phone call or trying to fall asleep. I love to escape and look at beautiful things and places. And the best part? You don’t have to respond to anyone. No messages, no comments, just bliss. Since I’m already on the website, I thought I’d put it to work by writing about the things I’ve found and tried.

Avocado Egg Salad.

(Click the pic for the recipe) This is a MUST TRY if you like egg salad! The avocado is used in place of mayo so it’s better for you and tastes just as great. I’ll never make it the old way again.

Hair Treatment.

I’m pretty particular about my hair and work at keeping it in good shape. I was excited to try something made from natural ingredients out of my own kitchen. ….Except it was a giant waste of time. Also, it smelled gross. There was no change in my hair and for now I’ll keep buying my products at the store. If you still want to give it a try, the pic will take you to the recipe.

Moscow Mule.

This is currently my favorite cocktail. It’s refreshing if you like the taste of ginger. Rumor has it the drink was born in 1946 when the struggling creator of Smirnoff was commiserating with the struggling creator of a ginger beer at the Cock n’ Bul pub in Los Angeles. They realized their products combined might actually sell and save them both. They helped out another friend by serving it in its signature copper mug. My favorite place to have one is at Haven in Orange. I need to track down their recipe, but in the meantime here is the one I use:

4 oz ginger beer (or ginger ale)

1.5 oz. vodka of choice

squeeze of lemon juice

crushed mint

I made up a pitcher for my birthday with 2 liters of ginger ale and 14 oz. of vodka. It wasn’t exact but I didn’t want to stand around making cocktails at my own shindig;) No one complained and it was gone at the end of the night so I’m guessing it was fine. The mug pictured was gifted to me by my thoughtful friend Morgan that night!

My favorite Pinterest finds are travel spots and quotes. I also pin a lot of homes I’ll never have, clothes I’ll never buy, and recipes I’ll never make. Here are my top picks for this week. You can follow me on Pinterest Here.

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Why Good Girls Dress Sexy on Halloween

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flex your faith

Confession: I love the morning after Halloween. Why? Because I wake up, get my coffee, and start trolling Facebook to see all the costumes. I’m always blown away by the creativity and cleverness that goes into the getups! And while I’m usually in awe of my friends’ costumes, my own tend to be… fine… and typically hindered by my desire to still look attractive in them. Minus two years ago when I thought it would be funny to go as the Power Team.

Most girls do not want to show up to a party looking ridiculous, ugly, male etc. And even if they did, finding a non-sexy costume is difficult.

I woke up this Sunday wondering about it all. Why are all the costumes skanky? Why do good girls go a little bad on Halloween? I decided it might be an interesting topic to explore so I asked my girlfriends for help. I roll with a very enlightened, thoughtful, and above all- willing to be honest crowd… Actually, I don’t roll with anyone b/c I am not that cool and it’s not 1999…but you know what I mean. Here are some ground rules before we begin:

#1 I’m going to use words like “we” and “all” knowing there are exceptions out there. If I clarify every sentence it will get lengthy and annoying for everyone. If you are one of the few girls who never want to look hot, by all means comment from your perspective, and I apologize ahead of time for lumping you in.

#2 I hate the word slutty….but in the context of describing a style of clothing, I find it helpful for getting us all somewhat on the same page.  Deciding when an outfit crosses the line is different for all of us…makes this conversation tricky.

#3 This is going to take an open mind on all of our parts. I’m not looking for the simple answer: slutty outfit= bad, modesty = good. I want to dig a little deeper and explore some of the real motives.

#4 I don’t really believe there are “good” girls and “bad” girls (But there are definately bad guys).   We are all a mixed bag and I needed a catchy title, people.

Q: Why do good girls dress slutty on Halloween?

A: “Because they can’t normally and want an excuse sans judgment (or not as much judgment as usual)”

There is the most common response I received.  Halloween is the one night we can all get away with outfits we can’t normally pull off and lots of us want to take advantage of the opportunity. But I keep thinking- why do we want to wear them in the first place? And more importantly, does this mean we are all hiding who we truly want to be the other 364 days? If so, is the hiding this side of us really a good thing or a bad thing?? Comment away! I’d love to hear your thoughts.

A: “There is a lot of pressure to be “hot.” Funny is nice, but for a guy it is just a novelty, not the girl you are going to try to make out with. Which brings it around to what is your intention for dressing that way?”

I found this response helpful since Halloween costumes do tend to land in either the hot, sexy, or funny category.   I used to believe that really good Christian guys didn’t like hot girls…. That they somehow only wanted a really smart, funny, and nice girl. False. They all like what they consider to be hot and on some level that’s ok. The good news is it appears better guys truly do put weight on things like character and personality.

As for funny vs. hot, it does appear the hot girl always wins. Funny works for male costumes but doesn’t translate as well for female costumes. Even the stores know this. Take a look at how differently the same characters are made (photo from Socological Images)

And my personal favorite:

Sexy Bacon!!!

There’s no question that society has set an expectation for how we are supposed to look. But even if I blocked out all outside pressure and forgot about male attention, I realized I don’t just dress for others. Part of me that wants to be hot for me. I want to know that I can look a certain way sometimes.   This came from a married friend of mine who dressed up this year as an M&M.

“I think there is less pressure to be slutty if you are married, but you still want to look good. And married, especially as a Christian, I think it is more awkward to dress slutty, like ‘why are you doing that?’ But maybe you want to do it just for you?? It was hard to dress in a giant, unflattering bag this year.”

Now clearly there is a difference between being feminine and skanky, but even when we aren’t dressing for men or are already married, we want to look good for ourselves. This isn’t inherently bad in my opinion. It is totally normal and part of how we are made. The tension comes because we don’t just live in a world by ourselves, we have to consider others.

We also have to live in the reality that what we wear says something about us and leaves us up for judgement. I think about the image I’m portraying with my clothes and attempt to have them line up with who I am.   I am someone who feels uncomfortable in anything too revealing or too frumpy.  Even between those two lines I can’t please everyone.

The judging…

“Some totally dress skanky and others totally judge. I have been both and I’m not saying one is better than the other, or a good thing.”

“I don’t judge as much on Halloween probably because it’s so common. I am just being honest. If I looked the way I want to I would probably dress up a little slutty :)”

A friend’s response to that- “Me, too.”

I find the judging part intriguing. Like the first responder, by certain standards I have been on both ends of the deal. I have crossed other people’s lines and I have judged other girls for crossing mine.  I’ll admit it, I wore the Snow White dress in a bag one year  and the truth is I feel more guilt over the times I’ve  judged other girls then  that costume.   I wish that negativity wasn’t in me and most of it comes out of jealousy.  I am probably thinking they have a better body or am envious over their freedom to wear whatever they want when it comes down to it.

There is still one part of me that is sad for the half-naked girl. I don’t want anyone to have to dress that way to get what they want or to feel beautiful. I wonder how she truly feels about herself and where she finds her self- worth.  Who knows, maybe she is just fine and even my split second psychoanalysis is inappropriate. Or maybe I’m right and the whole deal is just sad.

Either way, I’ve decided I don’t think it’s simple. It’s not always an easy decision for a single or married girl to figure out what to wear.  Some nights she wants to look grown-up beautiful (which typically means some level of sex appeal) and part of her wants this just for her.  Since it isn’t simple, I can’t be quick to judge. What’s the saying? ”Don’t judge someone if you haven’t walked in their shoes. ” Or in this case, hooker heels. I think it’s good advice.

I’ll leave you with a final response I appreciated:

“I think every girl deep inside wants to feel Victoria’s Secret sexy/desirable. If indeed you are a Christian, there is no place for that kind of validation. So Halloween has somehow become the one day of the year where you can get that particular kind of validation. Like see? I can have sex appeal, too. But really, I think most women don’t understand that they could be covered head to toe and a guy will still think you have massive sex appeal, even more so than when you wear less.”

Here’s to hoping she is right about that last statement! ***but not entirely convinced.

I’d love to hear your thoughts! Ladies- what do you think? Why, or do you, push the line this time of year? Is it different once you’re married? I’d love to hear a guys take on it, too!  Just so you know- your email doesn’t show up and you can stay anonymous. Also, please be kind to my friends who were brave enough to be honest.

Oh and this year I went as a deer (or Harry Potter’s Patronus had I been clever enough to think of it.)

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My Birthday Thanks List

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22
Posted by | 15 Comments
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I celebrated another year this weekend, and while you might be expecting to read a bitter lament, my feelings about the whole deal are quite the opposite. I came to the conclusion that birthdays are funny because right when you are in the midst of celebrating your own life, you are forced to think about the things you want but don’t have. What do you want for a gift? What do you spend your check from grandpa on? What do you wish when you blow out the candles? Did last year’s wish come true? Apparently I’ve had a good birthday list in proper order for a while:

I ain’t saying she’s a gold digger

But this year I didn’t a have wish list.  Heading into the festivities I felt an overwhelming sense that my life is really great simply because I am loved by an incredible family and group of amazing friends. They really are all I need or could ask for.

This birthday post came at an ideal time because I’ve been struggling to find a way to integrate joy into my blog without coming across as braggy or boring. There are tons of bright spots that I keep to myself figuring you’d all prefer to read about my funny mishaps or struggles. But my ultimate goal isn’t to make you laugh. It’s to be honest with you. And if I am to paint an accurate picture, I must include the parts that show I’m one of the luckiest girls in the world and I have a lot to be grateful for. Love comes from all kinds of sources and I have far more than I deserve. So this year, instead of a wish list, I decided to do a “Thanks List”. Here are a few things that made the list just from the weekend:

1. Lexie brought me balloons to our small group. I had no idea helium balloons could make the adult me so happy but they did!

2. I Skyped my little brother Matt in South Africa. I miss him dearly! He’s working with an orginazation called Aleph. Give them a look.

3. My grandma made me a special birthday breakfast complete with a game of cards:)

4. I can’t tell you the last time I had a birthday party as I tend to opt for a quiet evening with a few friends at a restaurant. But this year I got it in my head that I wanted an outdoor fall dinner party. You should know that when I get something in my head I tend to make it happen. This has been the source of some of my worst days- convincing my friend’s mom to perm just my bangs in 5th grade. The result was faux-pubic hair on my forehead, and my best days- this past Saturday.

It was the perfect evening thanks to the help of many. My friend Christine worked tirelessly all day helping arrange and clean. My older brother Tim spent his entire Saturday stringing lights and getting his backyard ready (plus he made those benches b/c he’s cool like that). My mom shopped and ran errands the whole day before and lent me all her pretty entertaining supplies (remember, I have not had the coveted pleasure of registering for real cookware yet and own next to nothing). People brought food and my friend Morgan did all the table decorating and planning! She has a great sense of space (that also happens to be the name of her business) and a true eye for beauty. The end result was a magical night with good friends over delicious wine and food. It was everything I had dreamed in my head and more!

5. And if I weren’t already blessed enough, I still got my quiet dinner. My parents took my siblings and me out for a special meal to wrap up the weekend. We had a wonderful time and there were happy tears and laughter. The tears were my brother Mark‘s. He is a big time crier. We also ate more delicious food which has now caused me to start P90X for the first time. Consider yourselves my world-wide web of accountability. Maybe if I tell you I’ll actually do it.

6. On my actual birthday I gave a talk to our Young Adult’s group at church about how much I love Jesus and what He has been up to in my life. It was the perfect reminder that He loves me and I’m never alone. I felt like it was His way of celebrating the day with me.

7. I had a good hair day at my party. So did Morgan. Here we are, sans bangs disaster, looking very posey in front of her pretty pumpkin and floral creation.

8. T. Swift’s album Red released! Seriously, I think we live parallel lives (minus her success, famous boyfriends, and millions of dollars. Did you know she is dating a Kennedy? That’s like our version of royalty, making her the new Kate Middleton (whom I love).  Taylor says exactly what is in my head… Which could indicate a problem because she might be 22…

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Cindy vs. Future

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Posted by | 12 Comments
map

I’m in the middle of looking for a new job. I hate it the way all people hate it. Beyond the busy work, I want to know what I’m doing next. I kinda want God to throw me a bone and just tell me already and get frustrated with myself for not knowing. Thankfully, these quotes found their way to me recently and I found them helpful.

Discipleship is not limited to what you can comprehend – it must transcend all comprehension. Plunge into the deep waters beyond your own comprehension, and I will help you to comprehend even as I do. Bewilderment is the true comprehension. Not to know where you are going is the true knowledge. My comprehension transcends yours. Thus Abraham went forth from his father and not knowing whither he went. He trusted himself to my knowledge, and cared not for his own, and thus he took the right road and came to his journey’s end. Behold, that is the way of the cross. You cannot find it yourself, so you must let me lead you as though you were a blind man. Wherefore it is not you, no man, no living creature, but I myself, who instruct you by my word and Spirit in the way you should go. Not the work which you choose, not the suffering you devise, but the road which is clean contrary to all that you choose or contrive or desire – that is the road you must take. To that I call you and in that you must be my disciple. “- Martin Luther quoted by Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Cost of Discipleship
 
“The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own,’ or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life—the life God is sending one day by day. What one calls one’s ‘real life’ is a phantom of one’s own imagination.” -C.S. Lewis
 
“If we would follow Jesus we must take certain definite steps. The first step, which follows the call, cuts the disciple off from his previous existence. … The first step places the disciple in the situation where faith is possible. If he refuses to follow and stays behind, he does not learn how to believe.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
 

These quotes reminded me that the “not knowing what is next” thing is actually part of what I signed up for when I became a Christian. No need to get so frustrated with myself and God because I technically can’t have faith if I know everything. They are mutually exclusive. Like gooda Nickleback song or a fun baby shower.

My life is not ultimately my own. My only job is to follow God even when He doesn’t tell me the who, what, when, where, or why. It’s not my favorite part…but a part nonetheless. There are times where you and I will be in the dark and these are the seasons when we actually learn to believe and practice having faith.

Hope this encourages some of you, too. You can’t all have your stuff figured out, right? Or else why would you be reading this blog.

10 points to the person who can tell me the correct name of the map

100000 points to the person who gives me a job lead

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Why I Think I’m Still Single

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I hate when people ask me why I’m still single so it surprised me when I decided to write about it. Am I doing it because a)I’m out of my mind today b) desperate for blog traffic or c) I’m assuming my readers also hate getting this question and might appreciate it? Probably a mix of all three.

I don’t particularly enjoy putting my feelings on dating and relationships “out there.” In fact, I go to great lengths to dodge such interrogations conversations in life, preferring to reserve them for close girl friends over bottles of wine. But I’m writing a book and a blog is part of the publishing process. (Which I’m totally excited about!) The only downside is they have both led to an increase in awkward interactions. Just this past Thursday while watching a friend’s band play the lead singer (whom I don’t know that well) asked me about my work and then said, “Oh..So you’re looking for a man, then?”

Kill me now.

I laughed and cringed and pictured myself deleting the whole thing as soon as I got home and answered that I would never put it that way. Ever. I can’t blame him for thinking that might be the case. I might stumble across this blog and think the same thing. I know my life is not all about “finding a man” (might be the worst phrase ever) but strangers don’t and that worries me.

Thankfully, Singer saved the conversation. He said it would be ok if I was looking and that he has found himself in that place before. We both agreed it’s a normal thing to want to meet the person you want to be with. He said his problem was that it’s hard to actually find someone you are interested in.

Exactly.

So, without further ado, here are the top 4 reasons I think I’m still single:

1. I don’t meet many guys I want to date. I’m pretty sure 100% of my single girl friends and guy friends would say the exact same thing. We go out, we get set up, some are online, and it all leads to nowhere. We’ve all had our share of rejection and heartbreak, but at the end of the day I feel like for me the real truth is- It’s not me, it’s him. “Him” being the proverbial hidden and/or impaired male species.

It’s really hard to find a single guy I find attractive, click with, has his crap together, and is into me, too. I imagine guys feel the same about finding “her.” Sure, I have days where I freak out and think I need a new hairstyle, stop eating food all together, or start-up some ridiculous yet possibly impressive hobby like windsurfing or dirt bike riding. But those thoughts pass and I remember that I like being me. There’s nothing “wrong” with me.

2. I’m still single b/c I spent 3 yrs in an on and off rollercoaster relationship. Think of all the missed opportunities! Just kidding, I don’t see it that way at all. But it’s technically true.

3. What I’m looking for takes time to find. People say all kinds of things about love and get married for different reasons. I think the important thing is to look for what matters most to you in a relationship. For me, it’s finding a best friend. (One I’m attracted to. I’m no nun). Some people think spark is the most important feature. I’ve felt it many times with guys I didn’t date long term and chemistry doesn’t indicate the other person is good for you. Others really want to find someone who shares their ideals and goals. Also important but I’ve met guys who share my values on paper but are not what I’m looking for in a relationship.  If our love for Jesus is the only thing we have in common its a no go.

What I’m looking for is someone I can look up to, enjoy spending time with, makes me laugh thinks I’m funny, and is kind. It would help if he miraculously found it charming that I watch mass amounts of the Hallmark channel at Christmas and want to talk about it. See…he’s going to be hard to find. I’m hoping the fact that I’m up for adapting to his quirks and try to be a good person most days helps. All in all, if this is what I want, I’m going to have to wait for it.  And I’m willing to wait for it and enjoy my freedom in the meantime.

 

4. this blog I’m fairly certain this blog is going to be my downfall.

Well, there you have it- that is why I think I’m still single. I think that’s why my friends are still single. They are total catches and it just so happens JoJo was right, “True love is hard to find. And once you find it, it probably has rabies.

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TV is my friend

10
6
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new girl

I love TV. I’m not afraid to admit it. I know it’s cool to be above it and too smart and too busy and to only read and whatever… I am not any of those things. I look forward to fall season premieres when my old friends come back and entertain me once again. I’m always impressed by well written characters and my favorite shows tend to have one in particular that I watch for. They are usually funny in an oddball kind of way. They can also just be really attractive…I’ll fully watch a show for that, too.

Loving:

New Girl– I’m actually not a huge Zooey Deschanel fan but New Girl is hilarious, mostly because of Schmidt. He’s the best written character on TV right now in my non professional opinion. He says all the douche bag stuff no one is allowed to say. Here is his letter to his favorite women on TV. Enjoy:)

Parks and Recreation– I love shows that expose the hilariously awkward people hanging around city programs. Genius. I’ve had some of my best real life weirdo interactions at CPR trainings, jury duty, and the DMV. A show that hits on this is definitely up my alley. I mainly watch this show to see Ron Swanson.

gotta love that:)

Heart of Dixie– Here’s where I should be perfectly clear about the fact that I don’t have particularly high standards for what I watch. This show isn’t exactly award-winning material but it is like having a new romantic comedy every week. And who doesn’t love that? One of the male leads has the same name as an ex of mine…not ideal but I make due. Also, the main female leads are 30 so that makes me happy. Oh, and I love Rachel Bilson’s clothes and it’s important to set personal goals.

Chicago Fire– I don’t have to explain myself. I’d watch this crap on mute.

On the Chopping Block:

Modern Family– I get bored with most shows after a couple of seasons and I wasn’t grabbed by the end of last season or the premiere. Maybe it’s because Lily is actually physically painful to watch or it’s just a natural time to wrap it up. Either way, it’s still early and I’m sincerely hoping they prove me wrong! It was one of my former favorites.

 

 

 

Dark Horse:

Emily Owens M.D– I had no intentions of watching this show. Absolutely none. But it was one of those I can’t sleep at 1AM and Hulu roped me in. What an unexpected delight! I’m shocked by how much I enjoyed it. Emily is a wonderful lead and the right amount of pretty without being unbelievable in either direction. She plays a brilliant doctor who hasn’t outgrown her awkwardness and her inner dialogue is hysterical. Plus there’s a love triangle brewing between Emily and two very hot doctors. One of which looks exactly like a different ex of mine…hmm..is this a theme I should be concerned with? Anyway, it’s a very smart and charming show that I highly recommend watching!

What about you? What are you watching?

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It’s Fall…. or so They Say

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24
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The first day of fall is known as the autumnal equinox.  Equinox (Latin for equal night) is when the day and night are equal lengths and the sun is directly over the equator.  I read this happened in the US at exactly 6:49 a.m. ET on Saturday.  At first it felt comforting to hear something as large as the season of fall is contained nicely in a box and can be predicted down to the minute.  I suppose I prefer that to randomness.   But that kind of precision doesn’t mesh well with reality.  For starters, it was over 100 degrees on Saturday.  No one told the sun in Orange County it was time to back off.  It’s still too hot for a soy pumpkin spice latte and I’m stuck in a sundress instead of my favorite leather jacket.

This fall thing bothered me all weekend. (Proof that I may need more of a life)   There is no exact moment when seasons of life change.  I can’t turn to life and say, “Excuse me, it’s 2:13 pm on Monday and XYZ is supposed to take place.”  Life is far more chaotic.  Life is complicated.   I’ve been thinking a lot about the word complicated the past few months in relation to faith and life.  Christianity can feel like a box, like precision and calculation trying to enter (or worse, be shoved down) complicated lives.  Some problems feel too big and messy for the truths and wisdom of the Bible.  They can come off as cliché, simplistic, out of touch.  When your gay friend tells you being out and in a relationship has grown his relationship with God.  When the new guy who doesn’t go to church treats you way better than your Bible reading, small group going, regularly tithing ex. (and the two before him)   When your friend wants to know if it’s ok to divorce her husband for his porn addiction.  It’s then that you want to say to the simple answers- you don’t have all the facts! You don’t understand!  It’s not freaking fall. Step outside, it’s hot as hell!

Simple truth in a complicated moment can make you angry.  Reducing a big situation to a small one feels wrong- even when you are right.  I’ve come to think that this is a key part of why Jesus came.   After giving the written law, prophets, and setting up religion, God said, “I’ll send a baby.”  In the end, He didn’t just send us a book of wise teaching, a set of religious practices, and a moral code to follow…. He sent a person.  As important as that stuff is, it wasn’t enough.   Only a person can always offer something new to our lives.   Only a person was able to expose the heart behind the wisdom.  Only something living and breathing is complicated and fluid enough to enter into our ever-changing lives.  Christianity can seem too simple and finite at times.  Jesus never does.  He’s always surprising us- compassion for the ones who messed up, a harsh word for the ones who did everything right, a life of downward mobility in a world that pressures everyone to get ahead.  He continually did the unexpected.  He approached situations from left field.  And even now, He’s up to date on all the facts, sides, and contributing factors of our problems.  In a good way, He’s not one size fits all in His dealings with us.  He meets us where we are at.

In Colossians 2, Paul tells the church that religious practices, rules, cultural festivals, strict diets and a long list of other things are never meant to be the point of our faith.  He went so far as to call them useless for living correctly.  In verse 17 he says, “These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.”  Like in Plato’s Cave, the shadows are only meant to be pictures of the real thing.  The real stuff, the whole point, the substance is Christ.

I find myself very grateful for this.  I’m so glad I follow a person instead of a religion.  Especially in a crazy world of eat at Chic-Fil-A/don’t eat at Chic-Fil-A, vote this way/don’t vote this way, bumper stickers, and soundbites that try to ignorantly tell us it is simple.  I hate that stuff.  And so I feel good about offering friends a person; a God/Man who is with us in our moments of need and confusion.   I recently had dinner with a friend in a bad relationship and I didn’t know what she should do.  While searching for the right advice, the thought came that she should just pursue Jesus.  I really believe that if she does, He’ll figure it out with her.  He’ll lead her in the right way. I can trust her to Him.  I believe He has something to say to all our lives if we’ll listen and take time to hear him.  His words won’t feel outdated, simplistic, or naïve- even if they’re ancient truths Christians have believed for thousands of years.   Because Jesus is not simple.  In fact, He’s the most complicated being that has ever walked the earth.

…So, take that fall. (Get it? Really bad Xtian joke on the double meaning of fall. Forgive me, I needed a conclusion and that’s all I had)

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Online Dating: Bachelor #2

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computer flowers

Sorry, friends. I’ve been on vacation all week at Hume Lake.  A glorious place without any cell phone reception!  I like to tell myself I couldn’t post.  Also, a blog is never less appealing to me than when I’m in the Sequoias.  If my book makes me enough $, I may just move there and become a hermit.

Anyway, back to the digital get down.  Here is the latest from our dearest Harmony.

Date #2
Thursday
Big Bear Collin
 
In his very first contact with me, Collin asked to take me out.  There is something intriguing about an eH match that gets straight to the point.  I wanted to email a few times first before I committed to meeting in person.  But when Collin mentioned in his second email that he is “looking for any excuse to get off the mountain”   I said yes to going out.
 
Collin recognized me from Biola (the university we both attended) which was flattering to know and also somewhat reassuring to find out I was not the only one to leave college without a “ring before spring.”  When Collin called to set up the specifics of our date, he suggested two options: the batting cages or miniature golf.  I like to be accommodating and attempt a try at an event a man suggests, however in this case, I could not hold back.  I immediately negated the batting cage idea.  Wearing a helmet on a first date did not seem appealing. 
 
The final decision was to meet at Camelot at 5PM and grab something to eat afterward.  Around 4PM, Collin called to say that he didn’t feel like it was an actual date unless he picked me up and could we meet in a city nearby instead and drive to Camelot together.  On my way (4:50), Collin called again to say he was at the carwash and should he just take his car out or be late since I was almost to my meeting spot?  What!  How many changes are you going to pull on me in the ten minutes before I shake your hand for the first time.  Perfectly acceptable to change plans or run late once you’ve been dating a girl for a month or two but getting a carwash before a first date is mandatory in my opinion and doesn’t require all that much planning in advance, right?!  He should be able to make this happen. Still, wanting to accommodate and not overstress him I told him it was no big deal.  I would entertain myself until he arrived.
5PM on a Thursday in June is hot, especially sitting in my black Honda Accord.  So I parked and decided to walk across the street and wait for Mr. Big Bear at Starbucks.  As I’m typing a text to inform him, reassuring him that I don’t mind waiting at all, I get a (what I interpreted as) frantic…. “wait there! I’ll go with you.”  Wait.  What?  Now I’m confused.  “I took my car out of the wash.”  Well, now I don’t need  Starbucks but he thinks I really want to go because in my attempt to reassure him about it being no big deal that he is running late, I type something to the effect of, “I really need coffee anyway.”  Oh, communication.
 
So now we’re walking as perfect strangers together to Starbucks.  Remember, I’m barely 5’4”, wearing flats in preparation for miniature golf, Collin is greatly exceeding the boundaries on 6’5”.  I felt like his kid.  Throughout the entire afternoon and evening he insisted on walking on the outer side of the sidewalk (to protect me from oncoming flyaway vehicles?? ) which somehow came across awkward every time we had to quickly switch positions.
 
Miniature golf was fun.  Me, him, and the three other teenage couples. But as the evening progressed, I just wasn’t feeling it. A good guy but not for me.  After dinner, when he asked if I wanted to talk some more at a neighboring bar, I politely declined and suggested we call it a night.
 
Driving home, I thought it was good to have met him and if he called again, I knew I would politely decline.  You just can’t force chemistry.
 
Except…
The next morning I realized I have left my prescription sunglasses in his car.  S@#T!!
 
Online dating tip #2: Always drive yourself on the first date.
 

Well, all I can think is first dates are rough.  Those initial few hours present a real conundrum: you need clear communication b/c you are strangers. You can’t ask or clearly communicate well b/c you are strangers.  Unless there are real signs you won’t work out, I’m typically open and a fan of date 2.  Jitters seem to taper a little and you can get to know the other person a little better.  Maybe Big Bear and Harmony will do better when he returns the glasses;)

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