Wednesday, August 31


God bless you and keep you, Gulf states, for you are brave ...

You looters and thieves: why? Why, why, why? ...

The New York Yankees donated $1 million to relief efforts. What is there not to love about them? ...

Thousands dead, and they can't even deal with that right now because they need to reach the living within the "golden 72 hours," which are slowly, surely, ticking away ...

Survivors of the Asian tsunami say they wish they could come over here and help us as we helped them. The world gets smaller and smaller. I mean cozier and cozier, and despite the devastation, I feel warm ...

Texas opens its doors, its schools, its resources, to New Orleans refugees. Take note, for this is how we help one another and build each other up.

Regular gas is $3.09 a gallon. I'd pay $10 a gallon with a smile on my face if lives were never devastated again ...

It's really surreal to have my life go on when others' lives are totally suspended. Do I feel guilty? Do I give thanks for where I am and how I am? I don't know what to do ...

And yet, tomorrow is another day. Hard to figure if that's a good thing or not these days ...

My heart won't stop breaking.
Check out The New York Times's call to respond:

Editorial: New Orleans in Peril

On the day after Hurricane Katrina was declared to be not as bad as originally feared, it became clear that the effects of the storm had been, after all, beyond devastation. Homeowners in Biloxi, Miss., staggered through wrecked neighborhoods looking for their loved ones. In New Orleans, the mayor reported that rescue boats had begun pushing past dead bodies to look for the stranded living. Gas leaks began erupting into flames, and looking at the city, now at least 80 percent under water, it was hard not to think of last year's tsunami, or even ancient Pompeii.

Disaster has, as it almost always does, called up American generosity and instances of heroism. Young people helped the old onto rafts in flooded New Orleans streets, and exhausted rescue workers refused all offers of rest, while people as far away as Kansas and Arizona went online to offer shelter in their homes to the refugees. It was also a reminder of how much we rely on government to imagine the unimaginable and plan for the worst. As the levees of Lake Pontchartrain gave way, flooding New Orleans, it seemed pretty clear that in this case, government did not live up to the job.

But this seems like the wrong moment to dwell on fault-finding, or even to point out that it took what may become the worst natural disaster in American history to pry President Bush out of his vacation. All the focus now must be on rescuing the survivors. Beyond that lies a long and painful recovery, which must begin with a national vow to help all the storm victims and to save and repair New Orleans.

People who think of that graceful city and the rest of the Mississippi Delta as tourist destinations must have been reminded, watching the rescue operations, that the real residents of this area are in the main poor and black. The only resources most of them will have to fall back on will need to come from the federal government.

Those of us in New York watch the dire pictures from Louisiana with keen memories of the time after Sept. 11, when the rest of the nation made it clear that our city was their city, and that everyone was part of the battle to restore it. New Orleans, too, is one of the places that belongs to every American's heart - even for people who have never been there.

Right now it looks as if rescuing New Orleans will be a task much more daunting than any city has faced since the San Francisco fire of 1906. It must be a mission for all of us.


These are your people and mine.
Do more; give more.

From The New York Times, a partial list of relief organizations for Hurricane Katrina victims:

Charity Navigator: inormation on various charities and ways to donate to the relief effort.

The Red Cross, or 1-800-HELP-NOW


Episcopal Relief & Development, or 1-800-334-7626

United Methodist Committee on Relief, or 1-800-554-8583

Salvation Army, or 1-800-SAL-ARMY

Catholic Charities, or 1-800-919-9338

FEMA Charity tips

National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster

Louisiana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

Operation Blessing, or 1-800-436-6348

America's Second Harvest, or 1-800-344-8070

Adventist Community Services, or 1-800-381-7171

Christian Disaster Response, or 1-941-956-5183 or 1-941-551-9554

Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, or 1-800-848-5818

Church World Service, or 1-800-297-1516

Convoy of Hope, or 1-417-823-8998

Lutheran Disaster Response, or 1-800-638-3522

Mennonite Disaster Service, or 1-717-859-2210

Nazarene Disaster Response, or 1-888-256-5886

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, or 1-800-872-3283

Southern Baptist Convention - Disaster Relief, or 1-800-462-8657, ext. 6440

Tuesday, August 30


It's my nightmare: to be surrounded by feet and feet of water, fearing for my life, seeing everything around me destroyed or submerged or washed away, wondering if I too will fall under and have the water soak into every part of me. But now, it's their nightmare.

Fortunately, I'm dry and safe and possessed of resources to help them wake up. Are you too? Well, then. Have at it:

American Red Cross
The Salvation Army
Second Harvest
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance
Convoy of Hope

Yo, we've got us some newbies.
No, just one.
Check him out on the sidebar.

Thursday, August 25


Extrapolating from something I shared with my ladies last night ... as you know, my care group meets every Wednesday evening. We alternate Wednesdays, one week being a chapter from the Bible study we're going through, the next week being an "excursion" night, when we get crazy and go see a movie or wreak havoc on downtown Manhattan or receive concussions from unexpectedly violent games of Tank Wars. N.B.: never play with Ranger Jay; he has a big, hard head. Sounds fun, right? I mean, the group is pretty diverse, given the not-really-diverse nature of my church (though we're trying, we really are!). The members' ages range from 22 to soon-to-be 38. We are four recent recent college graduates, a C.P.A. candidate, three medical students, an attorney, a pastor-slash-wanna-be attorney, a dentist, a scientist, a computer whiz, a banker, a nursing student, and a second-year resident. I've known one of these friends for over twenty years. Others, I feel like I've known for over twenty years.

But for some reason, without fail, every week beginning on Monday afternoon, I start to feel a moderate amount of anxiety about the upcoming Wednesday evening, regardless of whether it's a study week or an excursion week. I start to create excuses: "I'm starting to feel sick," "I'm so busy," "I want to go home and have dinner with my parents," "I'm exhausted and really should rest," "I need alone time and can't bear to spend hours in a room with fifteen other people." When the meeting is at my house, I feel even more unpleasant pressure, for I like to prepare dinner for those in the group who don't have time to eat before our meeting time (or those who do eat but manage to make room for second and third dinners). I am thrown into a minor frenzy of cleaning, cooking, making myself presentable, dusting, vacuuming, making sure I have enough plates, spoons, cups, food. Some weeks, I can actually hear Jesus's voice, admonishing me: "Martha, Martha ..."

This anxiety is unexplained and without reason because also without fail, at the end of every Wednesday, I am left thinking either "I don't want to go home even though I know I have to" or "I don't want them to leave even though it's past midnight." Isn't that strange? I asked my ladies: is it that in the course of the evening, I have been lifted out of my moodiness and funk because of the evidence that I had a good time with my care group? Or is it that God just takes these weekly opportunities -- being the ever-patient and ever-forgiving God He is -- to remind me gently why I need this community and why these people are good for me and why we are good for each other, even with all of our quirks and faults and annoying traits and bizarre senses of humor? Is it that He wants to drive home to me the diversity and the richness of His kingdom, and the importance of being in these people's lives (and allowing them to be in mine) while I have the chance here on earth? For I was made to think the other day: if any of these people were hit by a car and killed, how would I feel? Answer: I would feel wretched, I really would.

Sometimes the Wednesday evening experience is made richer by the magnification and subsequent reduction of my own insecurities. I am a severely bisected self. On the one hand, I often feel (and manage to present myself as) pretty confident, secure in my abilities and talents and the positive aspects of myself and my interactions with those around me. But on the other hand, I am also often wrought with the most bizarre and creative self-doubts, and these never rear their ugly heads as much as in the context of my friendships. For example, if I'm emailing with a friend consistently, and then the communications die off, instead of thinking "oh, we must both be busy and we'll reconnect later," I jump to the conclusion that either I must have offended the friend and s/he no longer wishes to speak with me, or s/he is sick of me for the time being and I need to back off. If I have bared myself to someone, and don't receive the desired response (you might ask what the heck I'm doing sharing things for the purpose of getting a specific response in the first place, how manipulative must I be!), I feel ashamed that I have overstepped some unspoken boundary and might have driven a friend away with my presumptuous trust. These are very bad, very passive-aggressive, very unusual thoughts and behaviors. (Or are they?) I never said I liked these things about me.

And yet, the best part is stumbling into a Wednesday evening shouldering these burdens (placed on me by my own self, naturally) and receiving unlimited grace. Being enveloped in a hug and hearing apologies for how busy she has been, and had she had a free moment, she would've dropped me a line. Being taken aside for a private joke or five, and making arrangements with a disconnected pal to reconnect. Having he who I thought was sick of me linger until the very last moment -- hours past midnight! -- to catch up.

These moments are so refreshing and ever so encouraging, and so precious to me. One of my ladies told me the other day that I should persevere in encouraging my friends to encourage me. What a novel concept, one I had never thought of and never would have thought of myself. Friendships are battles to be won, for I think the fallen human nature wars against intimacy and closeness and trust between us. Of course, we are right to want to feel loved and validated and accepted; that is what we were created to be, and it is in the course of this world that we have drifted away from giving and receiving that from each other. But we -- I -- also have a responsibility to give love and validation and acceptance to others, to my friends, to those for whom I claim affection. I should not approach my Wednesdays with trepidation, anxious about seeing people whom I force to scale my personal wall on a weekly basis. I should, in accordance with C's sage advice, not put up a wall at all. And even if it were erected, there are those -- Bomster, Flacon, and countless others -- who would be willing to scale it as often as they needed to. This is the essence of friendship and grace and encouragement, and it is these things that revive my spirit every week, and make my sleepy Thursdays so worthwhile.

It has taken almost a year of Wednesdays to realize this lesson that God has been knocking at the door of my thick brain and hardened heart to teach me: we are not insignificant in each other's lives. It is not trite or cliche to say that God uses people powerfully. After all, barring Him just appearing on earth and enacting His will here and there, what are we left with? Each other. A year of Wednesdays to remind me that I must be vigilant about my behavior, my speech, my actions, my heart, even my facial expressions, so that I would never discourage another, and instead give encouragement to the same degree that I seek it for myself....



In today's New York Times, there is an article about Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, who in a speech last week, "explored the gap that sometimes lies between a judge's desire and duty." Justice Stevens referred in particular to two recent High Court decisions: one about eminent domain and another about California's medical marijuana initiative. In both, Justice Stevens claimed he was torn between what he personally opined, and what the existing federal law and statutes required him to do.

Is this not the ever-present dilemma of a public servant? Will this not be my ever-present dilemma, as a Christian lawyer who also happens to be a woman and a member of a minority group in this country? Did I not take an oath to uphold the United States Constitution ... and do I not also claim allegiance to a God who ascribes to no government? Don't I have responsibilities to my female conscience, and also to the familial and cultural legacies handed down to me through the generations of my family?

Last night, we discussed this at care group: what role do, must, should, could the Christian church play in politics and government? I volunteered that it's not an issue of the church being involved; people don't like "the church" for whatever reason they have conjured up in their own imaginations (and thanks, Pat Robertson, you've done a great job of representing evangelical Christians, you rat). In my humble opinion, it's the individual believer who must do his or her part to be active in politics and government, and Christian belief and political/governmental activism are not mutually exclusive. Desire can translate into duty, and both can prevail, and we are not to sit idly by.

This it not because America must be turned into a Christian nation. No way! Sure, it would be great if all Americans knew Jesus and all that He was, is and will be. But it is because for me, there is no greater standard or arbiter of justice than Jesus. He was the first and greatest social activist; everyone who came after him -- Mother Teresa, Gandhi, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. -- they were all lesser copycats. Jesus stood, unequivocally, for the underdog. Those who were cast out by society. Those who were unable to care for themselves. Those who were consistently undervalued, dismissed, discarded, discriminated against, shunned, unfairly punished, criminalized. Those were the people that Jesus touched, laid hands on, cared for, fed, clothed, healed, forgave, freed. If believers stepped into positions of earthly "power" and channeled half the unceasing grace and mercy we receive from our God to do half the things Jesus did to enact justice on earth and in society, the nation, the world would be a wholly different place.

It is not about issues or pushing broad, aimless agendas. I could talk myself in circles debating with myself, much less with others, about gay marriage, immigration laws, foreign policy, foreign oil, the Iraqi war, abortion, the death penalty, welfare. My brain reels to just think about these issues. But Jesus wasn't about issues and agendas either; He was just about loving people into justice. I think He could care less about whether or not this country has a "Christian" president, or outlaws abortion or gay marriage, or promotes "family values" in schools and on television. I think, rather, that His heart breaks most that we are so incapable of loving one another, and so unwilling to love the poor, the sick, the homeless, the hungry, the abused, the punished, the shunned, the weird, the socially unacceptable.

I understand Justice Stevens's dilemma, I really do. But he draws a line between his desire and his duty that I think may not have to demarcated. If we who profess ourselves as Christians desire to serve the public, desire to love others and meet their needs, desire to bring wholeness to those who are incomplete, desire to love and show mercy and right wrongs ... then our duty is fulfilled.

Monday, August 22


The only trouble with self-medicating and sleeping all day is that ... well, I can't sleep at night. Go figure. But thanks to Wonger for more miscellany to keep me occupied. I don't know why I love these quizzes and questionnaires so much. I am a market researcher's dream -- I can take questionnaires all day and all night long and I never get bored. Why is this? Is it that I need so badly for others to know things about me? Is it that my short attention span appreciates these short little questions that require little sustained thought? Is it that I love to be introspective and really think about these questions? I have no idea ...

1. If you could build a second house anywhere, where would it be?
Block Island.

2. What's your favorite article of clothing?
My J.Crew jeans.

3. What's the last CD you bought?
Jason Mraz's "Mr. A-Z" and Chris Tomlin's "Arriving," at the same time.

4. What time do you wake up in the morning?
7:00 a.m., even when I don't want to.

5. What's your favorite kitchen appliance?
A toss-up between my KitchenAid mixer and my coffeemaker.

6. If you could play an instrument, what would it be?
Definitely, the guitar.

7. What's your favorite hair color?
On me, mine (really dark brown with less dark brown parts here and there). On others, a dark, rich chestnut brown.

8. Do you believe in an afterlife?
The Christian heaven and hell, yes.

9. Which do you prefer: sports car or SUV?
$3.00 a gallon or not, SUV all the way.

10. What's your favorite children's book?
Little House on the Prairie, by Laura Ingalls Wilder

11. What's your favorite season?

12. If you could have one super-power, what would it be?
I would love the ability to fight crime and injustice ALL over the world, WHENEVER it happens, or better yet, BEFORE it happens.

13. If you have a tattoo, what is it?
I have no tattoo ... yet.

14. Do you juggle?
Not at all.

15. Name one person in your past you'd like to go back to talk to.
My father's father.

16. What's your favorite day?

17. What's in the trunk of your car?
A complete car emergency kit; a bottle of water; an art print that needs to be framed; a cotton painter's tarp.

18. Which do you prefer: sushi or hamburger?
Hamburger, with swiss cheese, lettuce, red onion, pickles, ketchup and jalapeno peppers, on only the bottom bun. Side of french fries, please.



I just picked up The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, written by Malcolm Gladwell. It is SO RIVETING. I thought it would just be a throw-away book, something I can read while doped up on codeine and Comtrex, and not really have to concentrate that hard on. But lo! It is among the most interesting books I've ever read.

Its thesis is that every major phenomenon -- a syphilis epidemic in Baltimore, the popularity of "Sesame Street" and "Blue's Clues," even the American Revolution -- became that major phenomenon after it reached its tipping point, the moment where one small person, event, or thing blew it wide open.

It makes me think so much about other small people, events, things. Me, the person I interacted with today, the phone call I make tomorrow, the smile I give to one lady, the frown I give to another. Just the other day, I listened to Charlie and Dr.G joking about the fact that if she had never gone to that particular college, she never would have met Dr.G, they never would have gotten married, they never would have landed at NHF, they never would have had the Melon, they never would have moved to freakin' Canada, they wouldn't be sitting there now talking to me. Such little things, one thinks, but all these little steps lead to major things like marriage, children, homes, church life, friendships.

Such a mystery, life is sometimes. It makes me want to profess all the more the all-knowing, all-powerful and ever-merciful nature of my God. Were it not for His hand deliberately pushing me hither and thither, for His roadmap guiding me back from the places I went astray, for His providence putting specific people into my life and embedding them on my heart, I would not have gone to the "right" college and law school. I would not have had the job opportunities I have so thoroughly and ridiculously enjoyed in the last four years. I would not have landed at NHF either, and found a family there. I would not be in the house I live in, or claim the friends I love now. Well, maybe I would ... but no, actually, I don't think so. I shudder to think ...

For me, the tipping point isn't really a pseudo-mathematical phenomenon or formula. I mean, I know it is, and I read that it is, and that's all nice and good. But my tipping point is God. He's the one who has always, and does now, and will continue to lead and guide me, making divine interventions seems like coincidences, creating those pivotal moments where my decisions, if not rooted in Him from the start, will put me on the roundabout path back into His will.

Whether or not you ascribe to my Tipping Point, I highly recommend this book. And as soon as I recover from this germ attack, I'm heading out to grab Gladwell's second book, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, which is all about intuition and acting on it and relying on our adaptive unconscious. My God, I'm salivating just thinking about it ...

(Because I'm too clogged up to think in long sentences.)

Things that suck:

* Summer colds.

* Friends who allegedly want to draw close to you and want you to be demanding of them ... but then don't return emails.

* Summer colds.

* Having to go grocery shopping when all you want to do is crawl into bed.

* When it's beautiful outside and you want to play hooky and head to the beach ... were it not for the runny nose and the fever and the sore throat.

* Summer colds.

* Having a really good book to read, but no energy to read it.

* Summer colds.

* Having your art prints all framed and ready to be hung, but not having enough motivation to hang them.

* Having no appetite.

* Summer colds.

Wah wah wah. Pity party ....

Tuesday, August 16


Things that crack me up in good and bad ways:

* when people who don't know me all that well think they know me better than they do, and say things like, "You should (verb) this (noun); you'd really enjoy it." Would I? WOULD I?!?!

* ladies in full makeup and really really tight ponytails who talk on their cell phones while jogging on the treadmill at the gym. Why?

* when I get so sleepy that my eyes start to close, and I know that they are closing and I'm telling myself, "Wake up! WAKE UP!" but I just can't because my eyelids are way too heavy for human strength, and then I fall into a three-second sleep where I have a three-second dream that I remember when I wake up.

* an always funny joke. There are some jokes that never die. Then there are the jokes that should die but never do, and that is precisely why they are funny.

* when I see, in my rearview mirror, a car speeding up behind me, and I start to get annoyed at the young punk behind the wheel who is obviously in some kind of stupid rush to get somewhere and why didn't he just leave earlier so he didn't have to terrorize people on the road ... but then when the car gets close enough, I see it's a blue-haired granny. And then, I'm just confused.

* when I start to plan, in the middle of summer, my fall television viewing (or video-taping) schedule. So far on the slate: "The West Wing" on Sundays, "Lost" on Thursdays.

* when I'm telling a really emotional story over dinner at a restaurant and weeping and weeping and wiping my eyes and weeping some more, and then the waiter comes over and asks "how is everything?" and I smile broadly through my swollen and red eyes to say a little over-enthusiastically, "GREAT!"


Things that warm my heart at unexpected moments ...

* when I'm standing up at the front of the room, singing with the NHF praise team, and I see, out of the corner of my eye, MJ the 2-year-old Zombie come charging at me with his arms outstretched, asking for a hug.

* "I forgive you."

* an emailed reminder that no matter what my warped and self-degrading perspective says to myself, there is always someone watching me and watching out for me.

* hearing for the first time ever: "when we grow up, we want to be just like you."

* when I realize that I'm reaching out to "kids" and having real conversations with them, and see that they are reacting to me and warming to me in ways that I know that I could have done had someone "older" reached out to and conversed with me when I was their age.

* "I love you, my sister."


Things that I'm looking forward to ...

* time off.

* painting my kitchen ... dare I? Dare you join me?

* time off.

* running errands, all day, every day ... at my beloved Target.

* time off.

* endless hours where I can pack up Bob, my Bible, my journal, a fat book, coffee money, multiple multi-colored pens, stationery paper, and Herb, and head out to a local coffee joint to plug in, tune out, and create.

* time off.

* catching up on Season Three of "Alias."

* time off.

* making people who don't work outside the home during the weekday hang out with me.

* the end of time off and a new start.

Monday, August 15


I just saw the tail end of the episode of "The West Wing" entitled "What a Day It Has Been." It's the one where President Bartlett is speaking at a local university, and as he's walking the rope line upon leaving the auditorium, two gunmen start shooting at him and his staff. The ending montage of this episode ... I could watch it over and over again, and never ever get sick of it.

Now I'm watching the beginning of the next episode, the start of the second season, "In the Shadow of Two Gunmen." Everyone being rushed to the hospital, chaos reigning, no one knowing what's going on. And still, the best writing. THE BEST WRITING. The wittiest conversation. THE BEST WRITING. Who are these people? Are they really actors repeating lines? Are they not really the President, his wife, his daughter, his chief of staff, his secretary, his press secretary, his deputy chief of staff, his personal assistant?

Even now, three years after their first airing, these episodes never fail to stir me. Get my heart rate up and going. Make my eyes fill with tears. Cause me to marvel at the wonders of screenwriting and directing and acting and editing.

Reminds me why I loved this show in the first place. Such a small memory, really, but somehow significant.



I didn't get the job. My first private sector interview ever, and I didn't get it.

It's not so much that I'm disappointed about not getting an offer. How great could it have been? Third-year litigation associate (when I'm officially a fourth-year, bah!). Push papers, scurry after partners, berate first-years, interact awkwardly with a secretary, wend my way through depositions and motion papers, curry favor with clients for whom I have no sense of affection whatsoever. I know I'm not missing much.

But still.

I was really down for a few minutes. But then I heard The Voice ... "You didn't want to work in the private sector ANYWAY. What are you whining about? Why are you down? Don't you believe that I put you through law school for a reason? Don't you believe that I won't leave you hanging? Don't you see that I've given you every good gift so far? Don't you think I'm preparing an office, a desk and a chair, coworkers, clients, a reason to get up in the morning, personalized just for you? Don't you believe that if not this, then there must be something better, more appropriate, more YOU that I'm going to give to you? Don't you believe that waiting for something fantastic is better than taking something that is merely good?"

And of course, who am I to say no? So I say yes. Yes, yes, yes.

And so I wait and keep going.

Tuesday, August 9


I'm a bigger nerd than I thought I was.

I woke up to watch the landing of the shuttle Discovery at 8:12 a.m. today.
And now, having seen that beautiful machine land in near-complete darkness at Edwards Air Force Base in California, a perfect landing made even more special by NASA's pained history with shuttles, I have tears in my eyes.

Are these things not amazing and fantastic and spectacular still worthy of awe?

In this day of questionable heroes and misplaced idols, is Captain Eileen Collins not among the utmost of the courageous, steadfast and admirable leaders?

And aren't we still idealistic and innocent and excitable enough to get up early on morning during a week's vacation to watch these things, these people, wth a childlike glee and breathlessness?

Yeah ... I think my name is still on the waiting list for Space Camp ...

Friday, August 5


... it's Friday ...

What is your favorite...

1. ...Breakfast?
Normally, a bowl of Special-K with 2% skim milk. Not normally, Eggs Benedict, which is so gross because after reading Kitchen Confidential, by Anthony Bourdain, I know that everything about this meal should poison me to the max, but I love it and order it and relish it anyway. And coffee.

2. ...Brunch? the spinach-bacon-Roquefort omelet at City Limits. It comes with this weird mesclun salad on the side. And coffee.

3. ...Lunch? Tacos at Gemelo's. Chipotle shrimp salad wrap at Good-to-Go. Rice and kimchi-jigae at home when I'm laid up sick.

4. ...Dinner? Kimchi-jigae at home. Medium-rare steak at Flames. Family-style pasta at Sambuca. Tasting menu at One if By Land, Two if By Sea. Good cheap Thai with the LOLs. Anything eaten on paper plates with the gang.

5. ...Midnight Snack? Unless it's deliciously-cold-and-congealed leftovers and I'm going to be up until 5 in the morning, I don't eat after dinner.

Thursday, August 4


I'm so sad, Beyonce is leaving me.

No, that's not her real name, but that's how sassy she is. And she has hair like Beyonce too, sometimes, though she doesn't often whip it about in a dancing frenzy like Beyonce. But I bet she could.

Oh, Beyonce.

You know what kind of girl Beyonce is? She's the kind of girl who will joke with me about feeling like she's high on the crack-cocaine because she's been awake for the past four days. But then, she'll turn right around and clench my hands in hers and fervently tell me why I must make amends -- heartfelt, true, lasting amends -- with a mutual friend whom she loves as much as she loves me. She's the kind of girl who will snort and point and guffaw at the butchered nail-polish job her daughters did on me (only on the left hand, because I have to eat with the right). But then, she'll look me in the eye and tell me and try to convince me that I have deep-seated giftings worth cultivating. She's the kind of girl who will throw back a sour-apple martini ... or two ... or three, and encourage me to do the same. But then, she'll lean forward intently and give me marriage advice that she thinks I'm really going to need, because she's so much more confident than I am that I will find The One soon. She's the kind of girl who will refuse to laugh at my pirate joke -- the best bad joke ever heard by man -- but then proceed to tell all her bad Korean-pun jokes and laugh at herself. But then, she'll confess her feelings and thoughts to me and ask for prayer and friendship and sisterhood. She's the kind of girl who'll pick my nose, pull my hair, pinch my arm, thwack my forehead, pull on my skirt, ruffle my bangs, and give me the evil googly-eye for no reason. But then, she'll lean conspiratorially into my shoulder and we'll put our heads together for an hour-long private conversation about the meaning of life and humanity, even while sitting in the middle of a large crowd of people who want to talk to us but we don't want to talk to them.

In such a short time, months really, Beyonce has become like such a ... well, the phrase is so trite and I hate to make our sisterhood meaningless, so I won't complete the sentence.

File her under "People I Have Come to Love Like We Share Blood Who Leave Me Temporarily But I Know They Are Coming Back So I Won't Grieve Too Much, But Just a Little Bit, For Just a Short While, and So I Must Trust in the Revealing and Intimate Power of Email Until the Date of Return."

Wednesday, August 3

MUTE . . .

I want to write, I really do. I really really do.

I want to write about the book I'm re-reading ("The Brothers Karamazov"), the feelings that Jo-Jo stirs up in me, the hilariousness of a white shirt accentuating a tan, the music I'm listening to ("Passion: Sacred Hymns"), the congestion I'm feeling in my head, the constipation I'm suffering, the book of the Bible I'm just finishing again (Matthew), the things I'm waiting for (a job offer, a husband, a good poo, not necessarily in that order), the artwork I just received ("Law," by Paul Klee), the things that keep me up at night (weird burning bacon odor inside my nostrils), the people who bug me more than ever, the people for whom I have a renewed affection, the things I wish I could do (play guitar, speak Spanish fluently, write a novel), the movies I want to see ("Must Love Dogs," "A State of Mind," "Pretty Persuasion," "March of the Penguins," "Hustle & Flow," "Mad Hot Ballroom," "Saving Face"), all the things that roil about in the windtunnel of my heart and mind.

But I feel mute, unexpressive, incoherent, disjointed, out-of-body, shy.

Monday, August 1

8:48 P.M. . . .

Yo, Josiah.

Welcome to your life. It's going to be pretty nuts. Your dad is a spazz who has big hair and likes to discuss religious philosophy. Your mom is a creative woman with a hearty laugh and a soulful voice and a penchant for cooking really spicy foods.

Your aunts are chatty as all heck, bizarre beyond all reason and full of affection and gut-busting giggles. Your uncles love fantasy sports (they think it's real), buffet food and the Lord. Your pastor is an interesting dude who loves tweed and John Piper and his guitar and us, and now you too. Your church is growing slowly but surely ... in the right direction. We will all be shoving our faces really close to yours and speaking nonsense to you as if you understand us. Maybe you will. But be warned. We're weird.

Your state ... well, there's nothing we can do about that unfortunate circumstance, but when you reach the age of majority, you make sure you get out of Joisey as soon as possible. Your country ... I hope you'll be proud of it, even after taking into account all the good and the bad. We are a special breed of people, especially us hyphenated folk. You take this nation and make it your own, ok? Your world ... what a crazy place it is, Josiah. You're not going to like some of it; we're trying to change it so you hopefully won't even know those icky parts existed. But you'll also like a lot of it; there's lots of books and music and movies and nature and innovation and discussion and food and action out here. Perhaps one day, you'll get to see it all and realize what a Creation you've entered into, and Who brought you here to be satisfied by it.

You did a good job today, you and your Omma and your Appa. Get some rest before the weirdos descend upon you. Once we happen to you, ain't no turning back, and that's the truth!

Smooches, for I love you already.